Regional parties to play key role in NE’s 25 Lok Sabha seats but BJP in commanding position

Guwahati/Agartala, March 19 (IANS) As in previous elections, regional parties in the eight northeastern states will play a vital role in the 25 Lok Sabha seats there even as a majority of them are part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast, the BJP currently has 14 seats, spanning Assam (9), Tripura (2), Arunachal Pradesh (2), and Manipur (1), and the Congress four – three from Assam and one from Meghalaya.

Of the remaining, Assam’s All India United Democratic Front, Nagaland’s Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, Mizoram’s Mizo National Front, Meghalaya’s National People’s Party, Manipur’s Naga People’s Front, and Sikkim’s Sikkim Krantikari Morcha hold one each. One seat in Assam is held by an Independent.

Save the AIUDF, all the other regional parties are in the NDA.

There are more than a dozen parties, including BJP’s allies Asom Gana Parishad and United People’s Party Liberal, in different northeastern states but currently, they have no Lok Sabha members.

The BJP runs the governments in four northeastern states – Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur, and is part of the governments in Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Sikkim.

Eying Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha, the Congress, like earlier, set up the United Opposition Form (UOF) with the like-minded 15 other parties including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Trinamool Congress, Raijor Dal, Asom Jatiya Parishad and Left parties, but failed to reach an understanding on seat-sharing with them.

The AAP, the Trinamool Congress, and the CPI-M have already announced their candidates.

The Congress had formed a “Mahagathbandhan” with many other parties, including the AIUDF, for the 2021 Assembly elections in Assam. However, immediately after the Assembly polls, it snapped ties with the AIUDF, which currently has 15 MLAs in the Assam Assembly and whose chief Badruddin Ajmal is the MP from Assam’s Dhubri.

The AIUDF announced candidates for three Muslim-dominated Lok Sabha seats in Assam – Dhubri, Nagaon and Karimganj, making it tough for the Congress.

In Tripura, the Tipra Motha Party (TMP), which contested against the BJP in the 2019 polls, has not only become its ally but is also campaigning jointly with it. After year-long parleys, culminating in the signing of a tripartite agreement with the Centre and the Tripura government, the tribal-based party joined the BJP-led coalition government.

The ruling BJP, which had won both seats for the first time in 2019, dropped both sitting MPs – Union Minister of State for Social Justice Pratima Bhoumik (Tripura West) and teacher-turned-politician Rebati Tripura (Tripura East) – and fielded ‘Maharani’ Kriti Singh Debbarma and former Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb from the Tripura East Lok Sabha and Tripura West seats, respectively.

Of them, Debbarma, a member of the erstwhile royal dynasty, is the elder sister of TMP supremo and royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP’s victory in the state’s two Lok Sabha seats seems assured after Meghalaya Chief Minister and NPP supremo Conrad K. Sangma announced that his party would not field any candidates in the parliamentary seats in the state and support the BJP nominees.

The BJP again fielded Union Minister Kiren Rijiju for the Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat and Tapir Gao in the Arunachal East seat.

The NPP, the only national party from the northeast region, which heads the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, had won four seats in Arunachal in the 2019 Assembly elections and seven in Manipur in the 2022 Assembly polls. It holds one of Meghalaya’s two Lok Sabha seats.

In Mizoram, the ruling Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM) and the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) are the main contenders for the state’s lone Lok Sabha seats. The ZPM has put up newcomer Richard Vanlalhmangaiha and the Peoples Conference party has nominated Rita Malsawmi while the BJP, Congress and MNF are yet to announce their candidates. Both the MNF and the ZPM have no electoral and political relations with the BJP in Mizoram though the former is a member of the NDA.

In Manipur, the BJP won the Inner Manipur seat in 2019 while the Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader picked up the the Outer Manipur constituency. This time, the electoral scenario in the ethnic violence-devastated state is not clear yet.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected]) –IANS sc/

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