By : Ananya S Guha
Three crucial elections in the ensuing months in three states of North East India: Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. The North Eastern states are always considered to be crucial in terms of mainstreaming and nationality. The grumblings of insurgency still continue, though largely attenuated, excepting for Manipur and to some extent, Assam. However political parties eyeing for victory in any case, have to look for local support and ' like minded ' supporters, which in turn means targeting a common enemy.
In Meghalaya the BJP does not seem to have made substantial inroads, although the rumor says that the Jaintia Hills is pretty ripe in support. However efforts are still exploratory and to be seen in the long run. The party is still nascent, and the beef issue has not made matters any better. However the party with its jingoism may garner more support than expected. All political parities in some way or the other, support jingoism, and it remains to be seen, what support from other political parties is garnered, the BJP may enlist support from them, in addition to winning some seats. But that will be evident when formation of a govt is at stake, as evidenced from Assam and Goa. As things are now, matters are open ended.
In Mizoram it has always been the Congress and the MNF at least after the peace accord. If there is anti incumbency, the MNF may well come back. People I spoke to in Aizawl recently, say that the present dispensation is very corrupt. Perhaps NGOs like the YMA may play crucial roles in the hustings. All said and done, Mizoram is now one of the most peaceful states in the country, the most, perhaps with Meghalaya, in the North East, and it should be a people's mandate.
Tripura is a slightly tricky issue. Reports say that the BJP is gaining momentum there. But Manik Sarkar's work is for all to see. His pro poor, non sectarian, non partisan actions have brought him in favor of the tribal minority. The Hindutva card is being ostensibly played and coupled with the Bengali sentiment of being dubbed as ' foreigners'; might make an impact on votes. However even the Leftist's staunch opponents say that they are doing very well, and the state is solidly on the road to development. A few political murders have raised eyebrows.
All said and done these three states that are preparing for the next bout of elections, are going to see three national parties in the fray, where the regional parties could be game changers. Religion cannot be overtly brought into any of these states, as the people will directly snub such overtures. Money may play a role, as it does in politics, and the love for power can be a game changer. What is noticeable, is that in a state like Meghalaya, even a ripple of animation regarding the elections is not on. Perhaps people have seen through the games politicians play.
( The author is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University Shillong, a writer,poet and Honorary Editor of South Asia Views)