EC unveils eastern approach to 2023 poll season

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, January 18: The road to the 2024 Lok sabha elections could begin from the North-east, for it was in this reason that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had carried the most audacious ‘Operation Lotus’ to make the states ‘Congress Mukt’. The Election Commission on Wednesday announced that Meghalaya and Nagaland will vote on February 27 for the Assembly elections. Tripura will vote on February 16.

Smelling the EC move, Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah had dashed to the three poll bound states last week. Nagaland will vote for the Assembly elections without the protracted Naga Peace Talks making any headway, while the chief interlocutor from the Centre RN Ravi is now dabbling in Tamil Nadu politics from the Raj Bhavan after he was moved out of Kohima.

The BJP is currently in power in all the three poll-bound states. The BJP rode on the back of the allies to come to power in Nagaland and Meghalaya. In Tripura, the BJP had demonstrated its poll might with an ideological victory over the Left in 2017. However, the BJP’s choice of Biplab Deb, who was more obsessed with India’s mythological glory, brought the party to face acute faction-fighting in the North-eastern state, which borders Bangladesh. The BJP in 2017 had also gained from the hold over the Bengali speaking constituency, as the rank and file of the Trinamool Congress had merged with the saffron outfit ahead of the Assembly elections.

The BJP has sought to buy peace with the faction-ridden state unit by sending Deb to the Rajya Sabha, and keeping him away from the state politics. Congress and the Left are gearing up to join hands to take on the BJP even while the TMC is again searching for faces to wean away the Bengali speaking voters. Tripura has a total of 60 Assembly seats, while the BJP had won 33 of them five years ago. While the Left had lost the elections, the CPI (M) still had won 15 seats. The votes of the tribal may again prove decisive to tilting the scale for the victorious party in the state.

Nagaland and Meghalaya, Christian dominated states, have in the past shown the flavor to stick with the ruling party at the Centre. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s Northeast Sherpa, will again have his task cut out to ensure that ‘Operation Lotus’ remain blooming in the Northeastern states.

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