Exit polls for the assembly elections indicate that the BJP and its allies are likely to come out on top in Tripura and Nagaland, while Meghalaya will throw up a fractured verdict. In Meghalaya, too, post poll management by the BJP is expected to ensure it will be part of the government. Analysts have already discussed threadbare why the challenge to the BJP in these north-eastern states by various opposition parties is likely to fail. The primary reason is the undeniable fact that the BJP’s outreach to these states has been consistent and directed at managing long standing problems. These include solving complicated security issues, engaging pro-actively with separatist elements in the search for mutually acceptable solutions within the Constitution, and increasing connectivity by rail, road and air. The ordinary people have also benefited from the numerous welfare schemes. The overall policy has been inclusive and seems to have been appreciated even in the ‘Christian dominated’ Nagaland.
All of this has naturally made it difficult for other aspiring parties such as the TMC, Congress and the Communists to obtain traction with the voters. Perhaps this has also been because of an excessive obsession with attacking the BJP, rather than offering voters what they might want. Even if the actual results turn out to be the same as predicted by the exit polls, they should not lose heart because the opposition will always have a role to play. All it requires is to wake up to the present reality rather than be deluded by its own manufactured propaganda. This is because there are many more contests of significance to come.
The BJP naturally will feel upbeat about its prospects in the other electorally more important states. Does the predicted trend indicate that the continuing trust in the party, particularly Prime Minister Modi, is not just limited to the North-East and triggers similar responses elsewhere? It is going to be a mini-General Election with voting for assemblies due in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana this year. Karnataka is next and will prove crucial in deciding the mood for the rest. There will be greater clarity on the factors likely to affect the 2024 General Elections, although, as is well established by now, Indian voters can and do make the distinction between local and national level contests. And considering the fact that, till now, the Congress is supposed to be the primary opposition its fate – and that of its present leadership – will also be decided with some certainty.