Saffronisation Of North East:

By: Gaurav Nandan Tripathi

The recently completed elections in north eastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland saw a common trend. It was the steep upsurge of the Narendra Modi led BJP. what came as a surprise for many, saw the rise of the BJP as the winner of two-third majority in Tripura, with a really strong presence in Nagaland (where it’s most likely to form a government along with it’s allies), and a first time house presence in Meghalaya. The results came out as a huge shock to those who thought the hindu nationalism of BJP and RSS can hardly win any seats for them. But, incidentally it was not the hindu nationalism which got them their prize. It was a much deeper and meticulously organized campaign, which won them their accolades.

To understand it better, the example of Tripura is the best one. The BJP literally used all the cards in its deck to pull off this nearly impossible task of wiping out the 25 years of left rule in Tripura, which was incidentally the first direct combat between the right and left of Indian Politics. The combined forces of the BJP and RSS used the conditions in their favour to pull off this huge victory in the state. Let us look at those factors :

Manik Sarkar, now the ex CM, had ruled Tripura successfully for two and a half decades. But, he
had failed to bring some really tangible economic development in the state. The state government was still paying its employees according to the fourth pay commission, while every central government and most other state governments pay their employees according to the seventh pay commission. This discrepancy when removed can actually increase the income of a state employee who (say) earns 20,000 per month, by atleast 15,000 Rs. Therefore, the economic bar of the people highly grows above the par level. The only assurance Manik Sarkar could give was that even Manipur hasn’t implemented the seventh pay commission; which obviously is a very lame excuse. BJP with its pro market and pro economic development politics, attracted the masses in Tripura. It heightened the anti incumbency of the 25 years of left rule in the state.

Now, the RSS has always been a building block of BJP. But in Tripura, we need to give more credit to the RSS for providing and conditioning the voter base of Tripura, for BJP’s benefit. To begin with, RSS (sangh, as it is generally called) started building its own niche among the people of Tripura. It began with increasing the number of shakhas (branches) from 60 in 2014, to 265 in 2016. Sangh always reaches out to the masses by the medium of its social service and that is exactly what it did in Tripura. This helped to in turn increase the number of workers, who eventually extended the voter base to huge numbers. There were special posts like that of a ‘Panna Pramukh’, who would be given a full page of the voter list with it’s 60 voters. He or she would then go out, meet that person, and talk about their demands and needs; and after recording those things, the report was forwarded to the thinking heads sitting in Agartala. Ambitious campaigns like online voter registration, ‘train samparak’(campaigning in trains), etc. helped to bring more and more people in the ambit of the campaign, which finally proved out to be a masterstroke. Extra workforce was brought from other states, and the whole organization proved consequential in breaking the spine of a one-fourth of a century’s rule of Manik Sarkar. This also helped to break the CPM supporting families, and ultimately cross voting among families helped BJP getting this particular mandate.

The partnership between IPFT(Indigenous people’s front of Tripura) and BJP proved instrumental in grabbing the significant tribal vote of the state. The tribal population of Tripura was feeling alienated after years of neglect of demands. IPFT came up with the demand of a new tribal state. The BJP didn’t supported the demand for a new state, because that would have upset the Bengali majority. But they continued to be a part of this alliance, and ultimately IPFT gave them eight out of nine seats of the tribal majority areas. Not to forget are the 3 rallies of Narendra Modi, which gathered huge masses, and with his charisma (which still enthralls) he gave BJP the final push which they needed. Along with him, his 52 ministers also visited and rallied in Tripura, along with Amit Shah. This point will not be brought much, but Yogi Adityananth’s( who is the head of nath sect)
involvement also helped BJP to get the vote of the population of Bengali who followed the nath sect. this wasn’t a game turning thing, but it just shows the kind of tactical thinking the BJP election committee uses. Also not to forget are the efforts of the big guns behind this change. Sunil Deodhar (the party head), Biplab Kumar Deb ( the young leader of the party in the state), Himanta Biswa Sarma, and obviously Ram Madhav, the national general secretary of BJP. No doubt this win is a huge boost for BJP. And there is also no doubt that after ruling 21 states in India, Saffron is now what the major color of Indian politics. But I also think that the balance of saffron, white and green in the Indian scenario shouldn’t be disturbed.

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