April 15, 2024

Hectic political activities in NE states as poll schedules announced

TAP | Updated: January 18, 2023

SHILLONG, Jan 18: Political activity has heated up in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, three northeastern states whose election schedules were announced on Wednesday.

With polls slated for next month, political mega-rallies and last-minute attempts at creating electoral undertakings came to the fore.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee landed up to address a mega-rally in the sleepy Garo hills where she launched a blistering attack on the BJP which rules neighbouring Tripura in alliance with a small tribal party and is part of the Conrad Sangma-led alliance which rules Meghalaya.

Hectic parleys are also on in Nagaland to get Naga civil society to give up its demands for a halt to the polls till the Naga peace talks are finalised.

The EC fixed February 16 as the date for the Tripura Assembly polls and February 27 for the elections to the Nagaland and Meghalaya assemblies, with the counting of votes scheduled for March 2.

The BJP is pulling out all the stops to retain power in Tripura where the party has changed the chief minister in May last year. In the other two states, it will seek to expand its footprints in the two other states. The Congress and the Left are trying to recapture their lost influence in Tripura.

BJP central leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had visited the poll-bound states recently.

While Tripura has a BJP-IPFT alliance government, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) has the largest number of MLAs in Nagaland in an all-party government. The National People's Party (NPP), the only political party from the northeast that has the recognition of a national party, leads the government in Meghalaya.

Manik Saha, a doctor by profession, was appointed the Chief Minister of Tripura in May last year after the then CM Biplab Deb's sudden resignation.

The BJP and the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) fought the Assembly elections together in 2018 and wrested power from the CPI(M)-led Left Front.

The current strength of the House is 53. The BJP has 33 MLAs, IPFT-4, CPI(M) -15, and the Congress -1 respectively.

The CPI(M) and the Congress announced that they would fight the Tripura Assembly elections together, while the Trinamool Congress and Tipra Motha till date have not announced any alliance with other parties.

Tipra Motha chief Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma in an open letter on January 13 had appealed to the BJP ally IPFT for the unification of the two tribal-based parties.

State BJP general secretary Papia Datta, however, said the saffron party is set to contest the Assembly election with IPFT.

Trinamool Congress state president Pijush Kanti Biswas Wednesday said the party is ready to contest the election with "full force" and talks are on for tie-ups with "suitable parties".

The current strength of the Meghalaya Assembly is 42 mainly because of resignation of MLAs ahead of the election.

NPP president Conrad Sangma is the chief minister of the state where TMC became the main opposition following the defection of former CM Mukul Sangma and several other Congress legislators.

In her rally in Meghalaya, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said, "BJP is double-faced; it says something during elections and does something else after that. The BJP government at the Centre only gives money to states ruled by the saffron party."

BJP state president Ernest Mawrie said, "We are not in favour of a pre-poll alliance. We will contest on our own and we will comfortably win 10-15 seats," he said.

The current strength of the Nagaland Assembly is 59 where NDPP has 41 MLAs and BJP 12. NDPP-BJP is the only pre-poll alliance declared so far.

To a question on what will happen if civil society organisations remain firm on their stand unless there is a solution to the protracted Naga political issue, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday said, "We cannot allow any constitutional crisis and create a law and order problem. Right-thinking persons should pursue the issue by the rule."

The state government cannot allow any constitutional crisis, he said.

Nagaland Congress president K Therie said, "The announcement of the election schedule has betrayed the aspiration of the people" as the Naga political issue is still unresolved. PTI