After hectic electioneering in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP are focussing on the North-East before they devote full attention to Karnataka Assembly polls.
Polls are due in CPM-ruled Tripura, Congress-ruled Meghalaya and BJP-backed Naga People’s Front governed Nagaland in February 2018. Mizoram, also ruled by the Congress, goes to polls in November 2018. BJP poll strategists say that the PM and party chief Amit Shah will concentrate on these states before they brace up for the next big challenge in Karnataka, which goes to polls in April next year.
As the North-East states account for 25 Lok Sabha seats, the Assembly polls in these states are considered very important for the winning plans.
As the poll managers put it, the Congress was in power in five of the eight States, that is Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur, till last year. But today, the BJP and its smaller allies are ruling in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Sikkim.
In the Manipur elections this March, the Congress won 28 of the 60 seats and the BJP got 21. But the BJP managed to form the ministry with the help of rebel MLAs of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.
On Saturday, Modi addressed public rallies to mark the inauguration of a number of projects in Meghalaya and Mizoram. He inaugurated a hydroelectric project at Aizawl and unveiled a plaque for the Shillong-Tura National Highway. “The BJP’s agenda is development, speedy development, and all-round development,” PM said.
In Meghalaya where he sounded the poll bugle, Modi said: “See the record corruption in Meghalaya. Why has the Congress Government in Meghalaya committed so many scams. In Meghalaya, there are scams in the meals being given to children. This is unfortunate.”
Modi showcased his focus on the region by asserting that “after Morarji Desai, if any Prime Minister took part in a meeting of North-eastern council, it was me. Last year, I inaugurated the north eastern council meeting in Shillong.”
He announced Rs 90,000 crore for improving roads in the next two to three years for better connectivity.
In Aizawl, Modi said the Act East Policy of his government would soon make Mizoram the gateway to the South East Asian countries. The PM referred to the Union Cabinet’s decision to reclassify bamboo as a grass for commercial purposes. He said the farmers in the north-east could now produce, transport and sell bamboo without any restrictions as the Centre had relaxed the bamboo restriction regime.