BJP, Congress likely to change Nagaland and Meghalaya chiefs – aabtak24


New Delhi, Mar 05, 2023, IANS

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS): Close on the heels of polls in three northeast states, two principal national parties – the BJP and the Congress, are keen on pursuing “corrective steps” in order to revamp the organisations.

Both the BJP and the Congress stand on different platforms in the region vis-a-vis their histories and future roadmaps. The Congress, which had a golden past, is now struggling for very existence while the saffron outfit now basking at the new found glories still have good and old as well as new challenges.

For BJP, the immediate reactions from the mandate could be mixed. They could return to power in all three states but the performance from Meghalaya would force it to go back to the drawing room. In Tripura, the smartest of moves that actually helped the saffron party’s return to power in the onetime red bastion was the decision to replace former Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. The delay in removing Deb, a man with a lacklustre performance record, almost cost the Lotus party the state where by great difficulties it could oust the Marxists in 2018. Manik Saha had replaced Deb only May 15, 2022.

In Meghalaya, probably there is a realisation now that BJP’s present chief Ernest Mawrie should have been replaced long back. Mawrie is more famous for displaying “immaturity” and making unnecessary remarks in the media than working at the organisational level. Even after the debacle, as BJP could win only two seats out of 60 it contested, Mawrie is blaming the high command for “interference”.

“Mawrie does not know how the BJP functions. He is behaving like a regional party leader and at best as a Congressman. He enjoys making statements against senior colleagues and to remain in headlines,” a key party leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Sources said the BJP’s central leadership had their choice of candidates including Shillong North K. Kharkrang (a former IPS officer) only on three seats out of 60 while for the remaining 57 seats, the state unit was given a free hand. This school of thought suggests that Mawrie himself lost and so he should resign on moral ground.

Similar stories are emerging from Congress camps both in Nagaland and Meghalaya. The Congress high command may soon take a final call on the “tenure” of two state units presidents in Nagaland and Meghalaya – K. Therie and H. Vincent Pala respectively. Both the leaders lost the just concluded assembly polls. While Therie lost in Dimapur I to Tovihoto Ayemi of BJP, for his part Pala in Meghalaya lost to NPP candidate Santa Mary Shylla.

“At times in such cases the pradesh Congress chiefs resign. There is no hard and fast rule. Decisions are taken ultimately at political levels in various stages,” a Congress source said.

The Congress could not open its account in Nagaland (like in 2018) and in Meghalaya it could win only 5 seats – a drop of 16 seats from its 2018 tally.

For Nagaland BJP, the real problem started after the elections. Four stalwarts Y. Patton (Deputy Chief Minister in outgoing government), Jacob Zhimomi, Temjen Imna Along (state unit president) and Imkong Imchen are keen for the bigger slice of the cake and the prestigious post of BJP legislative party leader. A few BJP leaders reportedly already got in touch with Assam Chief Minister and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (NDPP) – who enjoys good rapport with Himanta – will arrive in New Delhi and meet central leaders on the formula of power share. The NDPP-BJP performance during last five years has been far from satisfactory and alleging discrimination seven tribes from Eastern Nagaland are already clamouring for a greater autonomy for the region.

Moreover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are keen for resolving the long pending Naga insurgency issue and analysts say the state government under Rio could not provide the “necessary spadework” to expedite the process during the last five years.

For Congress and the BJP, there is another common thread from the north east. It is the rise of regional forces.

In all these three states in the region, regional forces have done extremely well. In Meghalaya, the BJP’s ambitious journey to increase footfall did not make much headway as the NPP and other regional parties walked away with the lion’s share of votes. In Tripura, Tipra Motha did very well to win 13 seats in its maiden attempt even as closer scrutiny of poll results suggest that Motha harmed BJP’s ally IPFT as well as the CPI-M the most.

BJP state unit president Rajib Bhattacharjee lost to Congress nominee Gopal Chandra Roy. It was a bigger setback as in 2018 Chief Ministerial face Biplab Kumar Deb had won the seat.

In Nagaland, the NDPP led by Rio could manage to win 25 seats out of 40 it contested while the BJP contesting only 20 retained its 2018 tally of 2018. But in Nagaland yet again, NPP of Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya Chief Minister) could win five seats and NCP managed to come out with flying colours in seven constituencies.

In Meghalaya, the NPP won 26 seats — one more than the NDPP tally in Nagaland. Importantly, two other regional parties which are hardly discussed in national media, the UDP and the Voice of the People Party (VPP) also came out with flying colours. The UDP won 11 and VPP – four.

Two other smaller parties, the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and People’s Democratic Front (PDF) also could pick up two seats each. The vote share by regional forces in Meghalaya stood around 60 per cent.

This means tough battles are on the cards for both the BJP and the Congress.

In these situations, the saffron party will be particularly keen to revamp the party organisations in all the three states. Objectively speaking, in all three states Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland – there was not much emphasis given during the last five years to organisational revamp and this drawback came to light more than during election campaigns in many assembly segments.

(Nirendra Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of books, ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’. Views are personal)


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