April 12, 2014

ARUNACHAL PRADESH & LOK SABHA 2014


WHO WILL WIN INDIA's EASTERN MOST STATE?


The people of the eastern state of the Arunachal Pradesh are all set to elect representatives to the state as well as to the Parliament this April. Five years ago, the ruling Congress under CM Dorjee Khandu did extremely well here bagging the two MP seats and winning a simple majority in the legislative assembly. However, the former CM did not live long enough to reap the fruits of his hard work. Jarbom Gamlin was placed at the helm of affairs but was quickly replaced by Nabam Tuki following a political crisis. The upcoming polls are in many ways a test for Tuki to re-affirm his position as the top INC leader in the state. The BJP is fully dependent on Narendra Modi to spell his magic on the people here. Though it may have given up the fight for Itanagar, it is keen to do well in the parliamentary polls.

ISSUES

(1) The Political Scenario in the state: Considering the fact that Arunachal will witness both the national and state polls together, you can expect the local issues to be dominant. One interesting aspect will be the strength of each party. In spite of the untimely death of Dorjee Khandu and the controversy surrounding the leadership of interim CM Jarbom Gamlin, the incumbent - Nabam Tuki must be credited for keeping a firm grip on his flock. In fact, the INC which won 42 seats in 2009 ended up increasing its tally to 55 as MLAs from various parties joined it. Even in 2014, the party is facing no opposition in 11 seats. On the other hand, other parties are extremely weak. Although another former CM Gegong Apang has re-joined the saffron camp, the party is unlikely to go beyond the two digit mark. The PPA, the NCP and the TMC are other important players. There are a lot of expectation though from the NPF.

(2) The failures of UPA II: Now I doubt whether this will be a poll issue or not on the ground but the BJP is raking this ahead of the Union Elections. Even the staunchest supporters of the Congress-led regime will agree that the UPA's performance in its second innings has been far from satisfactory. The INC has failed to curb price rise, control inflation, prevent scams and so on.

(3) Discrimination: Since long, the people of North-East have alleged that they face discrimination in other parts of the country. In January this year, an Arunachali teenager Nido Taniam - the son of a MLA was killed in Delhi after he protested against comments being made on his appearance. The issue became a major rallying point for the the people of this part of the country living in Delhi with protest marches and candle vigils being organized at several locations. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi participated in one of these. Even Modi has asked for Indians to end the discriminatory treatment meted out to our brothers from the North-East.

(4) The Chinese Angle: For several decades, China has claimed Arunachal, saying that it was a part of Tibet which was occupied by the Britih when they ruled the Sub-Continent. Over the years, the state has become a bone of contention between the two Asian giants with the Chinese even giving stapled visas to visitors from here. The Red Army has intruded into Ladakh at regular intervals and there is a sense that the Indian government is not doing enough to tackle this. Narendra Modi, at one of his rallies has lashed out at Beijing, asking it to curtail its imperial ambitions.

CONTENDERS

(1) Congress: A deep dive into the state's political past shows that it has largely been the INC's bastion. With the opposition literally in tatters, at least in the state polls, you can expect the grand old party to sweep Arunachal. Eleven of the party's nominees are set to be elected unopposed including incumbent CM Nabam Tuki. While the fight for the Itanagar may be easy, the same cannot be said about the two seats to the Lower House of the Parliament. The BJP is seeing an increase in popularity and wants to replicate its success of 2004. Besides, Rahul Gandhi has talked about the infrastructure development that has happened here under the party's regime in the state and Centre. The INC has nominated its incumbent MPs - MoS for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering (Arunachal East) and Takam Sanjoy (Arunachal West) from here.

(2) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): While the saffron outfit may not be able to stop the Congress juggernaut in the state, there is no doubt that the BJP is going very strong in the two Lok Sabha seats. The party's strategy is simple. With a weak state leadership in Itanagar, it is relying on the persona of Narendra Modi to get the votes in the eastern-most state. The BJP has launched the 'Sarhad ko Pranam Yatra' here and its volunteers are going on a door-to-door campaign. The Gujarat CM too has attended a few rallies here which have seen decent crowds. The party's candidates for the big polls are Kiren Rijiju from West and Tarir Gao from East.

Others: Apart from the two big national parties, there are several other smaller contenders in the fray. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had a good debut in 2009 when they won five seats each. However, most of their elected MLAs later joined the ruling Congress. The People's Party of Arunachal (PPA) is a regional party which is fighting hard for its political existence. The Naga People's Front (NPF) which has been in power in Nagaland too has fielded its candidates in some areas.

PAST PERFORMANCE

Over the last five Lok Sabha polls in Arunachal, one party ends up winning both the MP seats. In 2009 and in 1999, it was the Congress that swept the state. However, in 2004, even as the BJP faced a shock defeat, the people here voted for the saffron outfit. Six years earlier, it was the Arunachal Congress - a splinter group of the INC led by former CM Gegong Apang that was the clear winner. In 1996, two independent candidates had won from both the parliamentary seats in the state.

Political Party
2009
2004
1999
1998
1996
Congress
2
-
2
-
-
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
-
2
-
-
-
Arunachal Congress (AC)
-
-
-
2
-
Independent
-
-
-
-
2

MY PREDICTIONS

While Opinion Polls are suggesting a one each for the BJP and the Congress, I think the saffronists have a good chance of bagging both the seats. Modi's rallies have drawn sizable crowds and this is surely going to be beneficial for the outfit. Meanwhile, the INC will utmost win one seat.

Political Party
Expected Seats
1
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
1-2
2
Congress (INC)
0-1

WATCH OUT

(1) Easy win for Congress in state polls: The grand old party is all set to comfortably win the polls to the legislative assembly this April. As many as 11 candidates of the party, which is as good as 20 percent of the strength of the assembly, are set to be elected unopposed. As such, the party has to win only 20 seats of the remaining 49. In the outgoing assembly, the party had the backing of 55 MLAs. While it may not be able to win so many seats this time around, the INC may finish with a tally of over 40.

(2) Can the BJP break big? The BJP has played its cards well. Aware that it does not have any big state leader to garner votes, it is relying on its PM nominee Narendra Modi to do well, both in General as well as the state polls. What will be interesting to watch is whether the saffron outfit can cross the two digit mark in the local elections. The BJP had formed a short lived regime in Itanagar when a large chunk of Congress MLAs under former CM Gegong Apang had defected, way back in 2003. Apart from that, it has always remained a small fry here. Meanwhile, Apang has quit the Congress to come back to the saffron fold.

Other posts in this series:
(1) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Tripura & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Madhya Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Telangana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(13) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(14) Jharkhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Sikkim & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Nagaland & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Delhi & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(21) Uttarakhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(22) Himachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(23) Gujarat & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(24) Punjab & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(25) Bengal & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(26) Odisha & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(27) Tamil Nadu & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(28) Andhra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(29) Uttar Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)