BJP’s win northeast but …..

Is Tripura a trailer for West Bengal? Is the BJP’s Northeast tsunami a projection for the upcoming assembly polls in other states and next year’s general elections? Was it the CPI(M) and Congress’s capitulation that gifted victory to the BJP, or did Modi-Shah’s latest thriller – ‘North by Northeast’ – go completely according to their script?
First of all, let us not overlook a few cold facts amid the brouhaha that ‘Modi has conquered the Northeast’. Sure, the BJP has won a stunning victory in Tripura, but it hasn’t won Nagaland and Meghalaya – its own score is 14 and two respectively. There will be a purely BJP government only in Tripura; in the other two states, it can only come to power with the help of local sectarian and even chauvinist parties, which will hold enough sway to embarrass or even to blackmail it. The euphoria, then, could quickly vanish; these parties could end up being the albatross around the BJP’s neck.
However, these apprehensions do not diminish the political and historical significance of these results in the Northeast. Now, except for Mizoram, the Congress may not have a government in any state (it still has a chance in Meghalaya).
But in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, the governments are carved out by skullduggery. The BJP must remember that machinations against the Congress in these states, and roping in unscrupulous individuals or parties by organising large-scale defections, can boomerang, just as was seen in Indira Gandhi’s time.
The Chanakyas of the RSS believe that the BJP has brought about political, cultural and emotional integration of the Northeast with the rest of the country. They were waxing eloquent on television channels that the feeling of alienation that these states felt will now be a thing of past; that separatist and fratricidal tendencies will be in check.
This is clearly a false hope, because the various small groups and identitarian parties are not going to give up their agendas for the so-called emotional integration with India.
I would like to cite a historical analogy, while being fully aware of the danger of it being read out of context. After World War II, the erstwhile USSR had annexed the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They were always restless, but were suppressed and could not assert their identity. The rulers in Kremlin used to shower on those states “special development packages” and used to say that they were fully integrated in the Soviet Union.
But the so called integration fell apart the moment Mikhail Gorbachev announced liberalisation of the polity under ‘glasnost’. The local separatists rebelled within the first two years, and confronted the Soviet army. They declared independence from the USSR almost a year before the country finally disintegrated in late December 1991.
Forget the ominous aspect of breaking away. The analogy is merely about the false hope and hype of emotional and political integration. That does not happen. The BJP has always been strident about Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Its manifesto says its government will scrap the provision.
It hasn’t occurred to most RSS ‘pracharaks’ that Nagaland is granted protection through Article 371A, Sikkim through 371F, Mizoram through 371G, and Arunachal Pradesh under 371H – which will come under threat if the BJP goes ahead with its plan to abrogate Article 370.
Similarly, the whole issue of beef and cow slaughter ban could have serious reverberations in the Northeast, where consuming it is a traditional way of life.
About 11 people have been killed in northern India so far, either on the suspicion of consuming or storing beef or for transporting cattle, and if riots and mayhem break out in, say, Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh, there will be problems. The newly-recruited local allies cannot be under the control of the BJP on this issue.
Then there is a highly explosive issue of migrants. The whole region is ringed by Bangladesh, Myanmar and even Nepal and Bhutan. The issue of citizen registration and domicile records is already a burning topic. When the BJP was not in power at the Centre and also in these states, it had no stake in the issue, so it could go berserk, not bothered about consequences.
But now, all those ghosts could come back to haunt them. This is not a curse of the disgruntled detractors; it is a concern and a warning. Neither the idea of Hindu Rashtra, nor the notion of cultural nationalism will impress the various groups and tribes.
The so-called ‘Seven Sisters’ have never lived together amicably in a joint family. Quite often, they have been at each other’s throats.
So, just establishing governments in these states and having the same party’s government in New Delhi won’t make the ghosts go away. These ghosts don’t vanish without a trace.

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