There is yet another saffron wave in the Northeast, with the BJP making remarkable gains in the region. The stakes were high for the party as it hoped to maintain its grip on the northeastern states, where it hardly had any presence prior to 2014.
The results of these three states are crucial for next year's parliamentary elections when Prime Minister Modi and his party, the BJP, will seek a third term at the Centre.
Proving the exit polls right, the BJP has made a comeback in the state of Tripura. The party allied with the Indigenous Progressive Front of Tripura. This time, the saffron party faced a tough fight from the Pradyot Debbarma-led Tipra Motha, which enjoys massive support among the tribal population. Debbarman's party has managed to win a number of seats. Hopes were high for the titular King after his newly formed party went on to win 18 out of 28 seats in the 2021 Autonomous District Council polls.
At the time of filing this report, Meghalaya seemed to be heading for a hung assembly as predicted by the pollsters. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, after falling short of majority, calls Union Home Minister Amit Shah for support to form a government in the state. Sangma's NPP has won over 20 seats but failed to get the magic numbers while the BJP managed to win 2 seats. This was the first time that the BJP fought on all 60 seats in Meghalaya. Earlier, the BJP was a partner in Conrad Sangma's government but broke ties ahead of the polls.
While the BJP has successfully consolidated its position in the Northeast, it faced a stiff fight from the regional parties. A tight race was predicted in Meghalaya, with the National People's Party emerging as the frontrunner. Of the three states, the most nail-biting battle is in Meghalaya.
In Nagaland, the BJP and its coalition partner, the NDPP, have gained a comfortable victory, as was predicted by several exit polls. The alliance has crossed the majority mark of 31 seats after BJP-NDPP contested on a 20:40 seat-sharing arrangement. The primary contest was between the NDPP and BJP alliance against the NPF. However, NPF fielded just 22 candidates while Congress contested 23 constituencies. There was no NPF-Congress alliance announced. Therefore, the NDPP and BJP alliance gained a clear advantage. In a Christian-majority state like Nagaland, the BJP is the pillion rider to the NDPP, following the same seat-sharing formula as the last assembly elections.
According to a political expert, "People who vote for the BJP are not only voting because they are in power at the Centre; it is because of the local leadership. BJP has not grown organically in these states; most of them are ex-Congress leaders. Even the Tripura CM, Manik Saha, is an ex-Congressman. The governance model in the Northeast differs greatly from that of the rest of the country. The BJP has successfully sold the idea of a double-engine government for the development of the region. The scope of development narrows in the North-East if you are not with the Centre, as the states do not make much of their own money and are dependent on the Centre."
Polls in the Northeast have mostly followed a pattern in correlation with the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections. Three of the seven sister states mostly depend on the Centre for development work.