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Lok Sabha election 2019: BJP wins back N-E ally to seal pre-poll pact

Meghalaya CM and NPP chief Conrad Sangma, who too threatened to call it quits with the BJP due to the citizenship bill row, said on Wednesday that there will be no pre-poll alliance with the party.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Mar 14, 2019 01:21 IST
Utpal Parashar and Kumar Uttam
Utpal Parashar and Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, Guwahati/new delhi
Supporters of the BJP in Agartala.
Supporters of the BJP in Agartala.(AFP File Photo)
         

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) alliance with regional parties in the northeastern states is back on track, after two tense months when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) efforts to push the citizenship bill through Parliament threatened to derail it.

The party’s general secretary, Ram Madhav, took to Facebook to announce that its alliance with six northeastern political parties is on. “The BJP, NPP, NDPP, AGP and BPF will fight together in Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with the mission of defeating Congress party at the hustings,” Madhav wrote early on Wednesday.

The alliance now has the chance “of winning not less than 22 of the 25 seats in the region,” he added.

While the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) heads the government in Nagaland, the National People’s Party (NPP) is the single-largest party in the Meghalaya assembly and governs the state in a coalition (of which the BJP is part). The Bodo People’s Front (BPF) is a coalition partner of the BJP in Assam, as was the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), before it exited the alliance two months ago over the citizenship bill.

Analysts say its return will strengthen the BJP’s hand in the region.

Meghalaya CM and NPP chief Conrad Sangma, who too threatened to call it quits with the BJP due to the citizenship bill row, said on Wednesday that there will be no pre-poll alliance with the party. “The NPP is a party with own identity and ideology therefore we will fight the elections on our own terms. Therefore in the states where we feel we should put up our candidates, we will do so,” he added. There will, however, be the option of a post-poll alliance.

Analysts say the BJP is likely to be satisfied with that outcome.

“While the opposition is still talking… about ‘Mahagathbandhan’ [grand alliance], we already have ours in place in northeast and the rest of the country,” wrote Madhav, who met the chief ministers of BJP-led governments, including Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), N Biren Singh (Manipur) and Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), and the heads of coalition governments Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland) and Sangma. Assam state minister and convener of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Hemanta Biswa Sarma, widely credited with establishing BJP strong presence across the eight states, was also part of the negotiations.

“We had a fruitful discussion with Ram Madhav and decided to come together to defeat the Congress,” AGP president Atul Bora told media persons on Tuesday.

The three AGP ministers who resigned from Sarbananda Sonowal-headed government will resume office on Wednesday, state minister Sharma wrote on Twitter. While three ministers – Atul Bora, Keshab Mahanta and Phanibhushan Choudhury – resumed their charges on Wednesday, Lachit Bardoloi and Hemen Borah tendered their resignations after the alliance was announced.

(With inputs from Sadiq Naqvi in Guwahati and David Laitphlang in Shillong)

First Published: Mar 14, 2019 01:21 IST

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