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

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When Power Is the Glue

The recent assembly elections in north-eastern India tell three distinct stories.

If there is one lesson the “mainland” must draw from the ­recent assembly elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura in north-east India, it is to avoid generalisations. Based on the sweeping victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Tripura, where it decisively trounced the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that had been in power for 25 years, the mainstream media in India wrote glowingly about the “saffron sweep” of the North East. They forgot, as they often do in relation to this region, that “the North East” is a geographical entity that comprises seven distinct (now eight, counting ­Sikkim) states with different political, cultural and historical features. To lump them together is to deny them their individual identities. In fact, this attitude in the “mainland” remains a ­major reason for resentment in these states where people feel they are lumped together and relegated to the periphery.

Apart from anti-incumbency as a factor, it is evident that the BJP succeeded in Tripura because of the large Hindu population that responded to its agenda. In the hill states, which are Christian majority, the story was entirely different. But even in Tripura, where the BJP won enough seats to form a government on its own, it entered riding on the coat-tails of a regional party ­demanding a separate state for the tribals of Tripura, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). Although the IPFT is a junior partner in the new Tripura government, it has the potential to be a thorn in the ruling party’s flesh as there is no way the BJP at the centre will accede to the demand of a separate state. 

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Updated On : 16th Mar, 2018

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