Fri, 11 Mar 2022 12:05 PM IST
New Delhi/ Imphal/ Guwahati | Jagran Politics Desk: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) achieved a historic win in the recently concluded Manipur elections after it bagged 32 seats in the 60-member legislative assembly of the northeast state. The BJP's emphatic performance in Manipur comes nearly a year after it had retained power in Assam for a historic second straight term.
With its record wins in Assam and Manipur, the BJP or the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is now in power in all seven northeast states - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya - making the region a jewel of its crown.
So the question that arises here is how the northeast, which was once considered to be a bastion of Congress and the Left alliance, became the jewel of the BJP's crown where it did not had even a single government till 2016. The answer lies with the creation of the North-East Democratic Alliance or the NEDA, and the rise of Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Sarma, who was once a Congressman, had joined the saffron party in 2015. A year later, the five-time MLA from Jalukbari was appointed as the convenor of NEDA, which included Sarbananda Sonowal, Pawan Kumar Chamling, Kalikho Pul, and TR Zeliang.
The NEDA was aimed at creating a 'Congress-free' northeast. The BJP allied with 10 political parties to fulfill its dream in the northeast.
The NEDA under Sarma soon started to have an impact on the politics of the northeast with 43 MLAs of Congress in Arunachal Pradesh joining the People's Party of Arunachal (PPA), an NDA ally, jolting the grand old party in 2016. This allowed the BJP to form an NDA government in Arunachal.
A year later, the BJP formed the government in Manipur under N Biren Singh after it formed an alliance with the National People's Party (NPP), and Naga People's Front (NPF). Then in 2018, the BJP formed an alliance with Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) led by Neiphiu Rio and formed its government in Nagaland.
2018 was particularly important for the BJP and the NEDA as the saffron party won Tripura assembly elections that year, along with its ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT). The two parties defeated the CPI(M) which was ruling Tripura since 1993.
BJP-led NEDA also won the Mizoram assembly elections in 2018 with Mizo National Front (MNF), an NDA ally, winning 26 seats and becoming the single largest party in the legislative assembly. With this, Congress lost power in all seven northeast states for the first time since India's independence.
BJP's rise in northeast was credited to Sarma, who political experts said is the driving force behind the saffron party's success in the region. Not just the state elections, Sarma was also pivitol to BJP's success in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, where he played an important role in helping the NDA sweep all seven northeast states.
For his role in helping the BJP rise in northeast, Sarma was made the Chief Minister of Assam after the party retained power for the second straight term there. Sarma replaced Sarbananda Sonowal, who would later be added to the Union Cabinet of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.