ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Electoral Response to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the North East

An examination of survey data is undertaken to understand why the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill issue did not affect the poll fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the North East. While it has caused widespread outrage in the region in the past many months, why then did it not dent the National Democratic Alliance’s electoral performance? Poll results in Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland are examined since these were the only states in the North East (other than Assam) where the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies–Lokniti conducted a post-poll survey. Local-level factors seem to explain the outcome better.

Manipur: Congress Triumphant

The Congress pulled off victories in both the Lok Sabha seats in Manipur, a feat it had last accomplished in 1996. Territorial integrity of the state, insurgency, human rights and repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 were the major campaign issues. A pro-Congress sentiment is widespread in the state as is the opinion that the Naga-dominated areas should not be separated from it. The election was also notable for a higher turnout because of non-interference by insurgency groups.

Manipur : Elections in the Context of Social Conflict

Voters in Manipur rated the state government negatively, but voted for the Congress in large numbers. Candidates rather than political parties matter more to Manipuris. However, voting patterns indicate that parties do draw their support from different sections of the electorate. Over the past few elections, a trend in the north-east has been to vote for the party in power at the centre, which also explains the reason for the BJP's better performance this time. Manipur is marked by ethnic conflict and insurgency, but its peculiar electoral dynamics ensure that the support bases of the Congress and BJP in the state are different from those elsewhere in the country.
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