The win in the recent Manipur assembly elections has turned the tide in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party once again. The win not only did boost the morale of the party in the northeast but also built a strong plank for it, for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. There are four seats for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls to be held on March 31 in the region. These include 2 from Assam and 1 each from Tripura and Nagaland. The BJP has already won the seat unopposed from Nagaland, making the party’s state women wing chief S Phangnon Konyak, the first woman representative from the state to the upper house. The BJP is playing the woman card in Nagaland. Nationally, the saffron party has reaped benefits by focusing on the woman vote bank, as evident in the recent assembly polls, including Uttar Pradesh.
In Assam, the BJP led National Democratic Alliance has the numbers to win a seat. The saffron alliance, however, is keen to win the other seat too. Pabitra Margherita is the BJP’s candidate for the first seat while the other seat is allocated by the saffron party to its ally United People’s Party Liberal, which has nominated its working president Rwangwa Narzary. The main opposition Congress has also nominated one candidate with Ripun Bora, the former state party president. This has made the contest for the upper house interesting in the state. A candidate will need 43 first preference votes to win a seat. The Congress, supported by 15 MLAs of All India United Democratic Front, claims that it has the backing of 44 MLAs, including the support of one MLA each of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Raijor Dal. The saffron party, however, is confident to win both the seats. Although officially the grand old party has 27 MLAs, two of them — Sashikanta Das and Shermin Ali Ahmed — are suspended by the party. Already state chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has reached out to Das and has even claimed that there are “Congress MLAs who are likely to vote for the NDA in the Rajya Sabha polls”. The grand old party faces the challenge to win a seat and if it fails to do so, it is likely to deal a blow to the already beleaguered Congress in the northeastern state.
Coming to Tripura, the BJP is expected to send state party president Manik Saha as the first saffron representative to the Rajya Sabha from the state, although there will be voting on March 31. The main opposition CPI(M) has nominated former minister Bhanulal Saha for the seat, despite knowing that the party doesn’t have the required numbers. Still, the election will be interesting to watch. Officially BJP has 33 MLAs while its ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura of NC Debbarma has 8. Whether Manik’s Rajya Sabha selection is an indicator for an upcoming change of party president ahead of the state assembly polls early next year to strengthen the party isn’t known as of now, although some reports say that the party is unlikely to change its face of the president in the state.