Politics in seven sisters of India is always a tricky game with the highest level of difficulty. There are valid and genuine reasons also for this level of difficulty in the political environment of seven sisters. Excess of tribal area, lack of development, education and other prime facilities, lack of connectivity to mainstream India makes the seven states in North East of India, a hard to break nut. However, in the present scenario, North Eastern part of India is witnessing a change in the political environment. The reason for these changes may be obvious or may not be but the change is happening.
After around 15 years ruling of congress (with the support of local political parties) in most of the North Eastern states, now congress is struggling to be in power. If we take a look at the party wise vote share in Manipur assembly elections, there is not much difference between vote share of congress and BJP, however the loss of faith of local parties in congress has uprooted them. There are upcoming elections during next year in four North Eastern states viz. Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.
Politics in Tripura is dominated by Left front and INC (Indian National Congress). In Mizoram, main political parties are Mizo national front and Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee which is a part of INC. There two parties have alternated in power since 1972. Meghalaya has a different scenario with 14 MLA of NCP and 11 MLA of UDP (United Democratic Party) in current government however, here this is a point to ponder that there is 1 MLA of BJP in Meghalaya in current government. Nagaland government is run by NPF (Naga People’s Front) with the BJP, as part of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland since 2003. Looking at this, it can be speculated that INC has a strong background in three out of the four states however looking at the circumstances of the Indian politics these days, nothing can be said. The rising of saffron party in the Manipur from not a single MLA in 2012 to 21 MLA in 2017 is a milestone in the journey of change. BJP is leading a coalition in Assam after decisive win last year and defection has led to formation of BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh. Following BJP’s spectacular victory in Assam Assembly polls in May last year, party president Amit Shah has piloted the idea of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) with an objective of Congress-free North East.
If we take a keen look at the current wave in Indian politics after the assembly elections in UP, Punjab, Goa and Manipur and MCD elections in Delhi, one can say that the punt is in the hand of BJP. However, the victory of BJP or congress in North Eastern states depends on the support of local parties. NPF supported BJP in Manipur and its strong position in Nagaland will help BJP to make coalition government in Nagaland and it will be very tough for INC to grab Nagaland. One more issue in Nagaland is demand of new independent province and the Naga National Movement however educated youth is now diverging from this movement and it is a good sign for the coming government. Tripura is the state where left front and INC has a good base and breaking into that is not going to be easy for BJP. Local parties are dominant in Meghalaya and Mizoram and again coalition and alliance will decide the fate of national parties there.
One more point in the politics of North East is ignorance of Eastern states and their people. In the 17th year of 21st century, still there are only one or two prestigious colleges and schools for higher education in North Eastern states. The main reason for violence in hills and poverty is lack of education. Uneducated and unemployed youth in these states are engaged in smuggling, violence and many other evils. The light of education can help them to be a better person and in my opinion the change taking place in hills of seven sisters is because local people has realised that path of development goes through the change in their choices such that the new choices cope up with the trend.
In the end, still there is one year for both the national parties to strengthen belief of public in them in North East however, current trend is in the favour of BJP but still one year is a long time and the governance of the three states will also play a major role in upcoming elections in hills and time will only tell that will the lotus will blossom in the valley or hand will not allow lotus to grab the hills from its clutch.