GUWAHATI: PM Narendra Modi’s push for Act East policy during Sarbananda Sonowal’s coronation as Assam’s 14th CM on Tuesday has given the BJP a message — Mission Northeast after Mission 84 achieved.
Mission 84 was BJP’s target of winning as many seats in the 126-member Assam assembly. It got 86 with help from regional allies Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front to end the Congress’ 15-year rule in Assam.
The Congress managed to win 26 seats, its worst performance since 1985.
The assembly poll win has made BJP confident of applying the ‘Assam model’ to the other seven north-eastern states. This model entails attuning the party’s ideology to local cultures so not to be seen as a Hindutva-driven Hindi belt aggressor. BJP president Amit Shah has indicated Himanta Biswa Sarma could be in charge of the NDA’s bid to win most of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Sarma was made the pointsman of North East Democratic Alliance that Shah formed on Tuesday with allies of the BJP in the northeast.
The BJP scripted its campaign keeping local icons and cultural values in mind. “Our job was to make Modi, Shah and others appear conversant about local people, issues and passions such as the peda (sweetmeat) of Bokakhat (central Assam town),” spin doctor Shaskanka Gupta Kashyap told Hindustan Times. The Assam victory followed a coup in Arunachal Pradesh where the BJP allegedly engineered a split to install a friendly People’s Party of Arunachal government. In Manipur, Congress is facing a dissension problem.
In Mizoram, the BJP’s ally is Mizo National Front that has only five MLAs in the 40-member house but knows it can unseat the Congress. The BJP did penetrate Meghalaya, winning three seats in 1998, but lost its way. The toughest challenge for BJP is Tripura, where the Left Front has gradually been pushing the Congress out.