Why polls in the North-East matter
The North-East is often called a political bellwether. The unique relationship of the region with the Union makes any dip in the fortunes of the ruling party at the Centre significant
Elections in the North-East, especially in the smaller states, have broadly followed a pattern that shows a correlation with the outcome of the national election. The party controlling the Union government starts with an edge in the region dependent on patronage to overcome hurdles posed by ethnic divisions, poor infrastructure, difficult terrain, and separatist movements. It should, therefore, come as little surprise that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has more or less replaced the Congress in the Northeast.
This is why the current round of elections in three states — Tripura voted on February 16, and Nagaland and Meghalaya voted on Monday — hold symbolic value. In Tripura and Meghalaya, the campaigns have been competitive, even though the incumbents — the BJP and the National People’s Party — appear ahead of their competitors. The presence of a third player in both states — the Tipra Motha in Tripura and the Trinamool Congress in Meghalaya — has led to a handful of seats being fiercely contested. Though the fate of the Congress doesn’t seem to be improving, the BJP and its allies are still expected to do well in at least two states, including Nagaland.
The North-East is often called a political bellwether. The unique relationship of the region with the Union makes any dip in the fortunes of the ruling party at the Centre significant. March 2 will show whether the BJP has any reason to worry or if its business as usual in the North-East.