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

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Elections in the North East and Dependent Federalism 

Recent assembly elections test the resilience of India’s federal set-up.

The assembly election results of Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura are being projected in the mainstream media and by the spokespersons of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a great triumph of the party and its supreme leadership at the helm of the union government. Such a projection is acceptable only in comparison with the electoral performance of the other major party with a nationwide presencethe Congresswhich has fared rather abysmally in the recent assembly elections. Putting such a national gloss over regional specificities may give the ruling party an inflated sense of electoral confidence; however, it cannot mask the reality that lies in the dynamics of details. Out of the three states that went to polls, the BJP could manage to get a simple majority only in Tripura, and that too with a significantly reduced vote-share and a major loss of seats for its alliance partnerthe Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT). It could sneak ahead of the majority mark only due to the division of the oppositional votes, and had the alliance between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M])Congress and the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha party been realised, in all likelihood, the BJP would have been staring at a major defeat. Whether the enforcers of the union government played any role in preventing such an alliance is anybodys guess, and the post-election dialogue between the BJP and the TIPRA Motha only adds grist to this speculative mill. Furthermore, the violence unleashed against the activists and supporters of the CPI(M) after the elections, that is, after the writ of the Election Commission over the state police is over, indicates the dual approach adopted by the BJP towards opposition forces as TIPRA Motha is sought to be co-opted while other parties are being coerced.

In Nagaland, the BJP has been a junior partner of the regional partythe Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)which leads the ruling alliance. While the NDPP has won double the number of seats than the BJP, the mainstream media kept reporting it as a historic victory for the BJP-led alliance in Nagaland. With its peculiar socialhistorical situation, Nagaland has nonetheless achieved the cherished dream of the ruling duo at the union, namely an opposition-mukt polity as all parties with representation in the assembly have expressed support to the government. This trend was emerging during the later phase of the last government itself, as the principal opposition party had merged with the NDPP, and again, the role of the union government in arriving at such a situation cannot be ruled out. Whether it is justified on the grounds of national security or development, absolute consensus that papers over political competition is inimical to a parliamentary democracy.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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