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Why BJP’s success in the Northeast state elections is important for India?

BJP continues to be on driver's seat in Northeast (Image courtesy: Twitter)

The assembly election results of the three northeastern states of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya have boosted BJP’s foothold in the region which is strategic to India’s Act East policy. The state elections results will also serve as prelude to the 2024 general elections.

BJP is leading in 34 of the 60 seat assembly in Tripura while in Nagaland the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), an ally of the BJP is leading in 36 seats. In Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma led National People’s Party (NPP) has taken a lead as counting of seats is still underway.

The states, home to people of various religions and ethnicities, have been frequented by top BJP leaders. Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda are among the leaders who have visited the states. Earlier this week Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too was in Sikkim to hold a post budget conference.

“The results will be critical at a time when the focus is on infrastructure drive and this would also help in continuity of policy measures,” an analyst told India Narrative.

“The northeast is now getting included in the mainstream political spectrum,” he said, adding that until now the region had few high profile visitors from New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Modi has asked all his ministers to keep a close watch on the execution of various government schemes and programmes which include the Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP), aimed at providing better connectivity and infrastructure to the northeast, Sitharaman said.

Despite being strategically located, bordering countries including China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, the relatively smaller states of the northeast had received little attention for decades. “With ASEAN engagement becoming a central pillar of India’s foreign policy direction, these states play an important role as the physical bridge between India and Southeast Asia,” Australian Institute of International Affairs noted.

According to a report by Observer Foundation Research, a large number of ethnic tribal groups speaking some 220 languages, each with its distinctive societal, cultural and economic patterns, many of them different from those of mainland India live in this part of the country.

“The challenges of political violence, insurgency, ethnic conflict, and pressures due to undocumented migration, have further added to the difficulties of the region. Its geographical location, surrounded mostly by international borders, makes its security an abiding concern,” it noted.

The state governments in the northeast therefore play a crucial role. “A lapse in governance and vigilance has huge ramifications not just in these states but the country as a whole,” the analyst said.

Also read: FM Sitharaman in Sikkim to oversee scheme for northeastern border villages