New Delhi: Detailing the BJPs rise in the northeast, its General Secretary, Ram Madhav, has contended that the party aims to expand its influence in the entire region. In his foreword to a new book, Madhav has elaborately written about his partys strategy in the northeast, where it enjoys more than two-thirds majority in Assam and also rules Manipur.
In his five-page foreword to "The Last Battle of Saraighat," Madhav lauds the "uniqueness and diversity" of the region and writes that even in the desire to look and sound "national," one should not disrespect or discard the unique structure of the region.
"One has to acknowledge and respect this diversity in order to succeed in influencing the people. I believe that grooming diverse local leadership is the key to success for any political party in this region. One wishing to work in or for the North-east must learn to respect the diversity of this region," Madhav has written in the foreword to the book, authored by Rajat Sethi and Shubhrastha, both of whom were an integral part of the BJP's campaigns in the north east.
"This one lesson helped us enormously when we faced the first election in Assam in early 2016. Of course, we had Modiji's popularity as a big weapon to use in the elections, but the political and economic conditions in the country at the time were not very encouraging for the BJP," notes the 53-year-old RSS-pracharak turned politician.
He also points out that the strategy of respecting and recognising the "uniqueness and diversity" of the region worked well and the BJP did exceedingly well in Assam, securing 60 seats in the 126-member assembly. Together with its allies, it had 87 members, more than the two-thirds majority.
"I feel two or three important factors helped us win the first major state in the North-east for the BJP. We were successful in forging a rainbow coalition with the AGP (Asom Gana Parishad) and the (Bodoland People's Front) BPF, thereby giving the people a feeling that we were capable of unseating the 15-year-old Congress regime. The election was largely centred around local concerns, focussing on the misdeeds and failures of the Assam Congress government under Tarun Gogoi," he expands on his party's strategy during the 2016 elections .
After Assam, his party has been successful in forming a government in Manipur too.
"The strategy adopted in this state was different because BJP was much weaker in Manipur than in Assam. Here, the division of votes helped BJP. Hence we contested the elections independently and won enough seats to come to power with the help of our coalition parties," he adds.
Madhav, who has worked closely on his party's strategies for the northeast region, goes on to point out that three years after the NDA government came to power at the centre in 2014, four out of the eight northeastern states have BJP or NDA governments. He also points out that the BJP has "friendly ties" with the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front in Sikkim.
"A region in which winning seemed a far cry until recently has now become a potential source of strength for the BJP. We aim to expand our influence in the remaining three states too," contends Madhav.
"The Last Battle of Saraighat" looks at Assam as a case study to explain the rise of the BJP in the northeast and throws light on some key political issues in the region. The authors, both campaigners for the BJP in the northeast, take the readers behind the scenes of the high-octane political drama and in the process, outline the political history of the region, provide details of election strategies employed by the BJP and explain why they resonated with the local people so strongly.