Elections in Northeast India never attracted so much attention as it happened this time around. Starting from the campaign trail to the result day, the democratic exercise in the three States of Tripura, Meghalaya and galand caught the attention of one and all across the country. This is an emerging phenomenon in Indian electoral politics and the credit for it must go to Prime Minister rendra Modi who has that uncanny ability of turning every election into presidential contest which somehow occupies the political centrestage of the country.
After the BJP-led NDA stormed into power in 2014 with a thumping majority, the BJP never rested on its laurels of parliamentary elections; the saffron brigade went an overdrive in various State elections to occupy maximum space in the political map of the country, thus replacing the Congress, the oldest political outfit here.. The move has paid rich dividends. With the Left bastion Tripura and galand under its kitty, the saffron party now stands to control 21 of the 29 States. Presently, the Congress remains in power in just three States: Punjab, Kartaka and Mizoram. This is the first time in the history of Indian politics that a party (or the BJP-led NDA) has gained control in as many States. Twenty-four years ago, the Congress had remained at the helm of affairs in 18 States.
The BJP’s slogan of 'Congress-mukt Bharat' appears to be inching towards reality if the grand old party does not get its act together and engineer a plan how to win elections the in fast-changing political paradigm of the country. In the last few years, the electioneering process in the country has gone through a sea change. The traditiol style of campaign no longer seems to generate results. The campaign trail has become much more aggressive, purpose-driven and tech-savvy. Credit must be given to BJP president Amit Shah and his core team to specially pick up loopholes of any ruling government and then devise an aggressive campaign plan which many a time has put rival parties on a sticky wicket. Barring exceptions like Bihar and West Bengal, the rrative and the minds behind such election campaigns have scripted for the saffron brigade astounding wins and fetched them rich dividends. At present, it appears the election winning duo of Amit Shah and rendra Modi do not have a challenger. The rival parties are taken off guard many a time in the campaign trail due to the sheer pace and agility of the BJP’s top duo.
Coming back to the elections in the Northeast, especially Tripura which was the main focus in this phase of election, with the BJP wresting power from the 25-year-old CPI(M) government in that State, once an impregble citadel of the Left front, it once again gives credence to the fact that the saffron brigade has engineered a very credible formula of winning elections which has left its rival parties clueless. The results in Tripura where BJP stormed into power with 35 seats have had the party soar spectacularly. The BJP got around 43 per cent of the vote share from getting 1.3 per cent in the 2013 election. This major turround in nearly two years of time clearly amplifies the fact that the party's election strategy is way ahead of the other parties. The Left front, which ruled the party for 25 years on a trot, has nearly been reduced to a single-digit party. The saffron brigade and its campaign magers very tactfully mobilised the groundswell of youths, women against the ruling Left government, and converted it all into an electoral success, which matters the most in a democracy.
Women voters and the youth have contributed in a large way to this victory. Prime Minister rendra Modi accepted this fact when he pointed out in a speech at Tumakuru that the two pillars of victory in Tripura were women and youth. In galand also, the party, along with its ally NDDP, has captured power. Here also the saffron party, which contested in 20 seats, won in 12. The strike rate is more than 60 per cent, which speaks volume of the saffron brigade’s success story in elections across the country. The BJP’s continued effort to make its presence felt in the northeastern region, which accounts for 25 Lok sabha seats, is nearing completion. Leaving beside Mizoram which is ruled by the Congress, in all other States, the BJP is in power. On the other hand, the rise of the BJP in the region has taken place at the expense of the Congress. The saffron party has gained maximum ground in areas which were considered Congress bastion in the region.
The lacklustre attitude of the top leadership of the Congress is primarily responsible for the sorry state of affairs of the party in the region. For instance, in galand and Tripura, the Congress left the electoral battle before it began. This provided free space to the BJP to gain maximum space in a short period of time. Like changing weather, electoral fortune could also change very quickly, but going by the trends it looks like Team BJP, with rendra Modi and Amit Shah steering it, is on a roll. To stop the electoral juggerut, the rival parties have to think out of the box.