As exit polls predicted, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance swept the General Election in the North-east.
Besides increasing its tally of elected representatives, the electorate of the North-east also helped the saffron party win the state Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh.
Peaceful, participatory and echo friendly polls in the region washed away negative impressions about the electorate where a new nationalism has seemingly emerged. Setting aside their narrow community identities, the North-eastern electorate came forward for a strong, safe and prosperous India.
Defying all speculations put forth by the anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill rows in the Brahmaputra valley along with various other parts of the region, the BJP increased its tally from seven to nine Parliamentary seats in Assam, where the Congress managed to retain its three seats and the All India United Democratic Front got reduced to one seat only.
While the BJP has achieved its best-ever performance in the Lok Sabha, the oldest party of India lost some of its important leaders in the polls. Assam witnessed the defeat of young Congress leader and sitting MP Sushmita Dev from the Silchar LS seat after an impressive battle where her nearest rival, BJP’s Rajdeep Roy emerged the winner.
The list of losing Congress candidates in Assam also includes sitting Rajya Sabha member Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was defeated by BJP leader Dilip Saikia in the Mangaldoi constituency.
Similarly, veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar lost the electoral fight to sitting MP Rameswar Teli in the Dibrugarh LS seat.
Another ageing Congress leader, Biren Sing Engti was defeated by BJP’s Haren Sing Bey in the autonomous district (Diphu) seat. Some other important losers include sitting AIUDF Parliamentarian Radheshyam Biswas (lost to BJP candidate and state Assembly deputy speaker Kripanath Mallah in Karimganj), state minister and BJP ally Bodoland People’s Front nominee Pramila Rani Brahma (lost to sitting MP Naba Sarania in Kokrajhar as an independent candidate), former Assam additional chief secretary and Congress nominee MGVK Bhanu (lost to state minister Pallab Lochan Das in Tezpur LS seat) et al.
Congress candidate Bobbeeta Sharma lost to BJP’s nominee Queen Oja from the prestigious Guwahati LS constituency, which was earlier represented by veteran BJP leader Bijaya Chakrabarty.
Similarly, another Congress candidate Anil Borgohain was trounced by sitting BJP Parliamentarian, Pradan Baruah in the Lakhimpur LS seat.
Sushanta Borgohain of the Congress also faced a similar fate in the Jorhat LS seat to state minister and BJP nominee, Topon Kumar Gogoi.
However, sitting Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi succeeded in retaining his Kaliabor seat where BJP ally Asom Gana Parishad candidate Mani Madhav Mahanta faced defeat. Another Congress leader and legislator Abdul Khaleque succeeded in defeating AGP nominee Kumar Deepak Das in the Barpeta LS seat.
Former state Congress minister Pradyut Bordoloi also emerged victorious in Nagaon constituency overcoming BJP legislator Rupak Sarmah. The significant loss was marked by the AIUDF, which tried to have an alliance with the Congress but failed.
The party, sympathetic to migrant Muslim settlers, could retain only the Dhubri LS seat where it’s supremo, perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal emerged victorious against his nearest Congress rival Abu Taher Bepari.
However, the party lost its Barpeta seat to the Congress and Karimganj seat to the BJP. An unseen Narendra Modi wave swept through both Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh as both the bordering states elected two saffron representatives to the lower house of Parliament.
Fresh with a new BJP government in Agartala, the state bordering Bangladesh witnessed the victory of saffron nominees Pratima Bhowmik and Rebati Tripura. Bhowmik defeated Congress candidate Subal Bhowmik, Left nominee Sankar Prasad Datta and IPFT candidate Brishaketu Debbarma in the West Tripura constituency.
On the other hand, in the East Tripura LS seat, Tripura trounced Congress candidate Pragya Debburman, Left nominee Jitendra Chowdhury and IPFT supremo NC Debbarma.
In the Tibet-Myanmar-Bhutan bordering state, Union minister Kiren Rijiju has won the Arunachal West LS seat. The sitting BJP Parliamentarian defeated his nearest rival Congress candidate and former state chief minister Nabam Tuki.
In the other LS seat (Arunachal East), BJP’s state president Tapir Gao emerged victorious against Congress nominee Lowangcha Wanglat. The state also went to its 60 member- Assembly election where too the BJP won under the leadership of Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
Disturbing news came from eastern Arunachal Pradesh as suspected militants belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah faction) targeted a convoy of vehicles carrying sitting legislator Tirong Aboh at Bogapani locality of Tirap district on 21 May, killing 11 people.
The NPP leader, along with his family members, was travelling from Dibrugarh to Khonsa, the headquarters of Tirap district in Arunachal Pradesh, when the attack took place.
Manipur has given the BJP its first MP from the state. BJP nominee RK Ranjan Singh defeated his closest rival, Congress candidate O Nabakishore in the Inner Manipur LS seat. Even in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary seat, BJP’s ally Naga People’s Front candidate Lorho S Pfoze emerged victorious against his rival H Shokhopao Mate.
In Meghalaya, NDA’s ally the National People’s Party retained its Tura LS seat, where Agatha Sangma emerged victorious against former Congress Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and BJP nominee, Rikman Garrey Momin.
However, the Shillong LS seat was retained by the Congress where the sitting Parliamentarian Vincent Pala defeated United Democratic Party nominee Jemino Mawthoh and BJP candidate Sanbor Shullai.
The Congress was defeated in the lone Nagaland LS seat where party nominee KL Chishi lost to Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party nominee Tokheho Yepthomi. Other losers in the constituency include NPP nominee Hayithung Tungoe and independent candidate MM Thromwa Konyak.
Present Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio won the LS seat in the 2014 national polls and it has once again gone to the NDA tally. The lone Lok Sabha seat in Bangladesh-Myanmar bordering Mizoram was won by another NDA ally, the Mizo National Front as its candidate C Lalrosanga, a former Indian Broadcasting Service officer, defeated his nearest rival, the Congress-supported Lalnghinglova Hmar.
Other important candidates who fought the poll battle unsuccessfully include Nirupam Chakma (BJP) and TBC Lalvenchhunga (PRISM).
Amazing poll outcomes surfaced from Sikkim where the opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha emerged victorious in both the Parliamentary and Assembly elections. The lone LS seat there has been won by the SKM nominee Indra Hang Subba defeating his arch-rival DB Katwal of the Sikkim Democratic Front. The Pawan Kr Chamling-led ruling SDF also failed in the 32 member Assembly polls that ended his two-decade-long tenure as Chief Minister of the tiny Nepal-Tibet-Bhutan bordering state.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the mandate is a reflection of the North-eastern people’s faith in the dynamic leadership of PM Modi. Soon after the victory of nine BJP candidates was confirmed on counting day, Sonowal commented that with Modi’s principle of Sabka saath, sabka vikas, he has given a voice to the marginalised through his value-based politics, honesty, integrity and hard work.
“The Prime Minister has strengthened national security and heralded a new age of peace and prosperity. On the economic front also, India has received a major push under his leadership and the country is today recognised as a world superpower,” said Sonowal.
He further underlined Modi’s special focus on the North-east and said his vision has opened new floodgates of opportunities for development in the region, which was otherwise neglected by the Congress for decades.
(The writer is the Guwahati-based Special Representative of The Statesman.)