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A Congress-mukt North-East

Dismissing the Mizoram results as insignificant for 2019 Lok Sabha polls would be politically wrong, given the voting trend of the region in Parliamentary elections where the dominant party has always had an edge

Sagarneel Sinha | Kailashahar (Tripura) |

It’s a Congress-mukt North-East now. With Mizoram, the last Congress bastion in the region, too falling, the north-east region, which once used to be the stronghold of the Congress, is now literally Congress-mukt. The party has been routed miserably by the Mizo National Front (MNF), which won a whopping 26 seats. The Congress won only five, down by 29 seats. Also, importantly, BJP opened its account in Mizoram and polled an impressive 8% votes, contesting alone. Last time, the party had polled only 0.4% votes.

Mizoram election results are however overshadowed by the results of the other states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana — because the state has only one Lok Sabha seat compared to the other four states. But one should remember that the entire North-East has 25 Lok Sabha seats. Obviously, the eight north-eastern states are different but in national elections the region has a record of voting for the dominant party of the region. Earlier, it used to be the Congress party but the picture started to change from 2014 with the BJP entering the election battle of the north-east.

OPINION | Winds of change blowing in Mizoram

Before 2014, Congress had governments in six states out of the eight — except Sikkim and Tripura. At present, after Mizoram election results, Congress is left with no states and the BJP with it allies is taking control of all the states. Though the MNF contested alone, it has clearly said the party is an anti-Congress one and so supports the BJP at the Centre. MNF is already a partner of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a conglomeration of north-eastern parties led by the BJP.

Already, with the BJP losing Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the party knows repeating the 2014 performance in these states would be difficult. The three Hindi heartland states account for 65 Lok Sabha seats and the BJP had won 62 of them in 2014. But in 2019, it will not be easy for the saffron party, as it may lose some seats according to the current scenario.

However, with the end of Congress hegemony in the North-East, BJP has an edge in the region. BJP, which won eight seats in 2014, may see its stock rising in the region to 14-16 seats in 2019. Addition to that, parties like MNF, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Nagaland Democratic People’s Party — the ruling party of Nagaland — and the National People’s Party, the ruling party of Meghalaya, together have chances to win in 4-6 seats, taking the NDA tally in the North-East to 18-22. If taken average, the number for the NDA would be 20, up nine seats for the alliance in comparison to 2014.

READ | MNF wins Mizoram, ousts Congress from last Northeast stronghold

It is to be noted that the BJP together with its allies had won 11 seats in 2014 in the N-E. Another major player, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), the ruling party of Sikkim, is expected to win the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state, and it has always sided with the party ruling in New Delhi.

So, if we consider the saffron party losing 20 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, NDA has the chances to  cover up to some extent the losses from the North-East by adding nine more seats. And if the BJP emerges as the largest party in 2019, it will also get the support of SDF, taking the tally up to 10.

So, dismissing the Mizoram results as insignificant for 2019 Lok Sabha polls would be politically wrong, given the voting trend of the region in Parliamentary elections where the dominant party has always had an edge. At present, BJP is the dominant party in the region and the saffron party definitely has the advantage in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And this is definitely a big setback for the Congress party, which earlier used to have an advantage in the Lok Sabha elections from the north-east.

(The author is a student and freelance writer from Tripura)