Congress focus on traditional strongholds in Northeast: Ghulam Nabi Azad


Congress focus on traditional strongholds in Northeast: Ghulam Nabi Azad

In Meghalaya, election has been countermanded in Williamnagar in the wake of the killing of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Jonathone N Sangma in a blast during campaigning.

In Nagaland, former chief minister and Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader Neiphiu Rio has been already declared elected unopposed from the Northern Angami-II constituency as his lone rival, Chupfuo Angami of the Naga People's Front (NPF), pulled out fearing defeat.

There is dissatisfaction in Nagaland for the party and it has put up the candidate in just 17 out of 60 seats. He was instrumental in forging a pre-poll alliance with BJP after the later ditched its 15-year-old ally NPF. Despite the party putting up candidates in 59 out of 60 seats, the campaigning of the party was the very low key affair. Nagaland got four chief ministers in the past five years.

Campaigning for Meghalaya and Nagaland Assembly polls concluded on Sunday. He patched up with Mr Zeliang, his successor, but fell out again. Over a dozen of them switched loyalty to the BJP besides the NDPP. But it has not written NPF off, claiming their "tried and tested" friendship is still on and indicating it has kept options open.

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The BJP is trying hard to shed its "Hindutva" image.

The saffron party is also facing the test of secularism in Meghalaya, though other issues - such as ban on coal mining affecting the lives of some 2.5 lakh people across 16 constituencies - have taken over.

In Nagaland, Congress has fielded its candidates in only 18 constituencies, while BJP fielded its candidates in 20, NDPP in 40 and NPF in 58 constituencies.

Both the Congress and the BJP have been aggressive in their election campaign this time.

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Much of the action in Meghalaya is expected to be in the Garo Hills where Chief Minister Mukul M Sangma of Congress and NPP chief Conrad K Sangma are vying to be the undisputed leader of the Garo Hills.

The Naga People's Party (NPP), founded by late speaker PA Sangma, was not much of a threat to the Congress in the previous election.

Apart from the first State election in 1972, the verdict in Meghalaya has always been fractured. Voting for legislative assemblies of the two northeastern states will be held on Tuesday. Speaking to media persons after a public meeting in the city, the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee said that the Centre abolished the industrial policy for northeastern states and special category status after BJP came to power.

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