Guwahati, Mar 14: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have bright prospects in Northeast India and is very confidently expecting to win over 20 Lok Sabha seats from the region that has a tally of 25 parliamentary constituencies.
This became possible because of the coming together of the old allies of the BJP – the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) as a result of the parleys held by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav with the leaders of these parties.
The AGP had distanced itself from the BJP over the citizenship amendment act issue. The proposed amendment seeking to provide shelter and citizenship to the Hindu refugees coming from neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan was resented by the ethnic Assamese people majority of who had been supporters of the AGP – the party that spearheaded the movement against the illegal foreign nationals present in Assam on a large scale. However, the bill could not be passed as it did not get entry into the parliament during the budget session.
Now the differences and apprehensions over the proposed draft has been resolved and both the allies of the BJP had agreed to work in tandem for the Lok Sabha elections and also to follow the line adopted by the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) headed by Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Addressing media after the crucial midnight meeting on Tuesday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said, “The BJP, AGP and BPF have decided to go together for defeating the Congress in the LS election. We are sure that this alliance will serve its purpose.”
Expressing satisfaction AGP President Atul Bora who was one of the leaders of the famous Assam Agitation, agreed to presence of some ‘ideological differences’ between AGP and BJP over the citizenship Bill. However, the issue is now resolved, he said adding that both the parties will now work to strengthen the ground base. “Our prime objective is to ensure that the party wins the Lok Sabha seats”, Bora said.
It was also decided that the State presidents of the BJP and AGP, Ranjit Kumar Dass and Atul Bora respectively would be jointly interacting with the grassroots workers of both the parties in the days to come to remove any misconception among the party workers.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma held parleys with the constituent party leaders in Dimapur and Guwahati to strike the deal. The leaders they contacted included Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonoval, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh, and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. It was in this meeting the alliance and electoral understanding between the parties was sealed.
The BJP along with the Nagaland People’s Party (NPP), NDPP, AGP, and BPF will contest Lok Sabha elections in Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with an avowed mission of achieving ‘Congress mukt northeast India’.
In Tripura where the BJP recorded a landslide win in the last Assembly elections, the party will collaborate with IPFT for the Lok Sabha polls while in Sikkim, the BJP will ally with the main opposition party SKM.
Ram Madhav and Sarma exuded confidence of winning 22 of the total 25 seats of the Northeast region. This figure will be most vital for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for seeking a firm majority for the second consecutive term.
Sarma endorsing the assessment of Ram Madhav said, “ we want to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister once again and we will give him at least 22 seats from the northeast”.
As per the seat sharing formula finalized during the meeting the AGP would be contesting on three Lok Sabha seatas while the party is offered one Rajya Sabha seat also. The BPF will go to elections in its stronghold of Kokrajhar and the BJP will field its candidates in Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Nagaon, Diphu, Silchat and Karimganj. However the seat sharing will be finalized during the visit of BJP President Amit Shah on March 16, sources said.
Talking to the media, State BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass said: “Following instructions from party president Amit Shah and general secretary Ram Madhav, we’ve stitched an alliance with the AGP. As the ruling coalition, now we’ve the AGP, the BPF, the Rabha Joutha Sangram Samiti, the Tiwa Jatiya Aikya Mancha and the Gana Shakti on our side to fight the Congress. We’re hopeful of winning 12 out of the 14 seats in Assam in this Lok Sabha poll.”