KOLKATA/AGARTALA, March 2 (PTI): The man who stitched together the various alliances which saw BJP’s sun rising in the Northeast has done it again.
BJP’s poster boy from the region, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has emerged as the party’s deal maker, flying almost “on a daily basis” to all the three states of the northeast where polls were held in February this year in between running his own state.
First by picking on Neiphiu Rio as the man to bank upon and piggyback to power for a second term in the insurgency ridden state of Nagaland and then by helping Delhi pick up the unassuming Manik Saha as the man who could undo the damage to the saffron party’s popularity in the vital border state of Tripura.
Last, but not the least by getting Conrad Sangma who broke off his NPP party’s alliance with BJP just before the election to Meghalaya’s assembly, back on the negotiating table for a possible tie-up with the right-wing party in case he fell short of the majority mark.
Sangma is believed to have had two rounds of meetings with Sarma on the issue and some kind of a rapprochement seems to have been worked out.
“Since people put their faith in us with a bigger mandate than last time, there is a high probability of consolidation of the earlier partners,” NPP spokesperson Ampareen Lyngdoh said when asked if NPP will ally with the BJP.
Backroom deals were attempted to even win the Tipra Motha, founded by scion of Tripura’s erstwhile princely family by Sarma, though the tougher and possibly more wily negotiators from among former militants sent by Motha proved a tougher nut to crack.
Former militant-turned president of Tipra Motha, Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, had told PTI in an interview a few weeks back, that attempts had been made for a pre-poll alliance, without success.
“We met in Guwahati … we were invited by Assam CM (Himanta Biswa Sarma). Two more BJP leaders came from Delhi … we declined as they said we cannot agree (to a separate Tipraland),” he said, though he held out the possibility of extending outside support under certain circumstances and subject to caveats.
Sarma, whose stock is high in Delhi had earlier captured eyeballs as the BJP’s first star campaigner from the region in far away Gujarat and Delhi.
Be it the imposition of Uniform Civil Code (UCC), PFI ban, passing of the Cattle Protection Act, calling for specific policy measures for slowing down minority population growth or bulldozing of “illegal” villages, Sarma has left no stone unturned to push forward assertively the right-wing party’s key agenda in his home state and in states where he has campaigned.
However, interestingly, these pet projects of his, which could have made him unpopular in Christian-dominated states like Nagaland and Meghalaya seems to have become non-factors in his political wheeling-dealings in these very states.