BJP Retains Influence in Northeast

BJP candidate Sonam Tshering Venchungpa who won from Rumtek-Martam in Sikkim with the workers
Some groups may criticise it for NRC and CAB, the victory of BJP and its allies in Assam and other North-Eastern states shows it continues to retain its influence in the region
 NJ Thakuria
Guwahati: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained three seats in Assam Legislative Assembly as it won the by-polls held on Rangapara, Sonari and Ratabari seats. However, the Congress lost its Jania Assembly constituency as the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) nominee was declared a winner in the by-polls.
All four Assembly seats in the state were vacated by the legislators who were elected to Lok Sabha. The by-polls took place on October 21 and the results were declared on October 24. The victory of the BJP was however predicted by the political observers in advance.
Vacated by State Minister Pallab Lochan Das (presently a BJP Parliamentarian), Rangapara constituency in Eastern Assam was won by the BJP nominee Rajen Borthakur defeating his nearest Congress rival (Kartik Kurmi) with a margin of 49,599 votes. Sonari seat in the far eastern part of the State was vacated by another minister in Sarbananda Sonowal’s cabinet Tapan Gogoi (also a BJP member in Lok Sabha) and was declared in favour of the BJP nominee Nabanita Handique, who defeated her nearest rival Sushil Kumar Suri of Congress by 15,430 votes.
Similarly, BJP candidate Bijoy Malakar won over his nearest Congress rival (Keshab Prasad Rajak) in Ratabari Assembly constituency (in Barak valley) by 24,001 votes, which went vacant as the BJP legislator (served as Assembly deputy- speaker) Kripanath Mallah participated in the general elections. AIUDF candidate Rafiqul Islam emerged winner in the minority-dominated Jania seat in Western Assam.
The BJP won two seats in Sikkim, the first time in the Himalayan State, where the third one was grabbed by Chief Minister (Prem Singh Tamang alias PS Golay). Need not to be mentioned that Tamang’s party, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, is an ally to BJP. He defeated his nearest rival Moses Rai of Sikkim Democratic Front by a margin of 8,953 votes in Poklok Kamrang Assembly constituency. The other two Assembly constituencies namely Martam-Rumtek (BL) and Gangtok were won by BJP candidates Sonam Tshering Venchungpa and YT Lepcha. Venchungpa defeated his nearest rival Nuk Tshering Bhutia of SDF with a margin of 6,150 votes and Lepcha defeated his nearest rival Delay Namgyal Barfungpa of Sikkim National People’s Party by over 1,000 votes.
By-polls were necessitated as SDF Chief Pawan Kumar Chamling vacated Poklok Kamrang, Kunga Nima Lepcha left Gangtok and DT Lepcha vacated Martam-Rumtek constituency after winning two seats each in the last Assembly polls. The State elections marked the end of more than two-decade-long rule by Chamling in Gangtok. Tamang was sworn in as new Chief Minister on May 27 even he was not a legislator then. BJP’s ally United Democratic Party won the Shella Assembly constituency in the by-polls, which was necessitated because of the death of Meghalaya Assembly Speaker (also a former Chief Minister) and UDP chief Donkupar Roy. His son Balajied Kupar Synrem won this seat.
In Arunachal Pradesh, independent candidate Chakat Aboh emerged winner in West Khonsa seat. All major political parties including Congress and BJP had supported her, who lost her husband in a terror attack.
The victory of BJP (and its allies) is significant as the party continues to receive criticisms for issues like updating the National Register of Citizens (in Assam) and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Civil societies of the region have condemned the ruling party in a number of northeastern states (besides in New Delhi) on different issues triggering protest demonstrations time and again, but the poll-outcome has emerged in other ways.