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LS Poll 2014: Prospects of Ten Parties Regional Front in Northeast India
Tuesday March 4, 2014 0:35 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba, ummid.com

Northeast India is one of the most neglected regions in the country. The reason being there are not enough MPs from there to make their voice felt in the Parliament. The attention of the central government is more towards containing the insurgency rather than focus on the development of the region.

Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, 10 Regional Political parties from the North East region of India have formed the North East Regional Political Front (NERPF).

The NERPF has the representatives from all the regional parties of the Northeast. The ten parties that have joined hands are; Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Nagaland People's Front (NPF), UDP and HSDP of Meghalaya, MPP, MSCP and MDPF of Manipur, PPA of Arunachal Pradesh, IPFT of Tripura and MNF of Mizoram.

The representatives of the regional political parties of the newly constituted NERPF passed certain resolutions at the formation of the front. They are as follows;

The front will work to safeguard territorial, cultural, political and economic rights of the people of the region and will continuously strive to protect the distinctive identities of the ethnic tribes and all the people of the region.

The front voices serious concern that the Government of India has not taken effective steps to stop infiltration of migrants from across the border and has not taken steps to detect illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators from the region.

The front called upon the Union government to immediately enter into a treaty with the Bangladesh government to deport all the infiltrators from the NE region. .

The NERPF passed several other resolutions like, immediate scraping of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), actions of the China government to build massive dams in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River, on India's look east policy etc.

The NERPF also raised the issue of EVM tampering. It said that the EVM is not fool-proof and there were instances of tampering with the EVMs in the past. The front demand that either the EVMs be abolished or they should be supported with paper slips in all elections.

The newly formed Northeast front demanded a comprehensive amendment of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution with devolution of powers to the states in all matters, except those pertaining to Defence, External relations, Currency and External Trade. It demanded scraping of the concurrent list and to transfer all the subjects in that list to the state-list.

The problem of insurgency in the northeast figured prominently during the NERPF formation meeting. The front expressed concern about problem of the insurgency in the region. It alleged that the central government has handled the problems of insurgency in an adhoc and half-hearted manner. While dealing with one outfit at a time the central government has created a situation for other outfits to assume prominence and aggressively pursue their demands.

Lampooning the central government for the total lack of vision to deal with the problem of insurgency in the northeast, the NERPF urged the Union government to eschew from adhoc policies and hold wider consultation with all the stake holders in the peace process. It urged the central government to formulate a policy that takes into account the aspirations of all the constituents of the problem.

The front expressed concern that the Union government has started fencing in a part of Manipur-Myanmar international border without taking the people of Manipur into confidence. It alleged that central government has given away large chunks of land to Myanmar, which is a matter of serious concern.

The NERPF urged the Union government to immediately make its plan clear to the people and to desist from giving Manipur land to Myanmar.

The resolutions adopted by the NERPF have given gist to the view that regional political parties in India are regimenting to control power at the centre. However, it still seems to be an infant idea if we look at the performance of the regional parties in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

There are 26 Lok Sabha seats in the eight north-eastern States, including Sikkim. Assam -14, Arunachal Pradesh -2, Manipur -2, Meghalaya-2 , Mizoram -2, Tripura 2, Nagaland-1, Sikkim-1.

Assam which has 14 Lok Sabha seats saw Congress winning 7 seats in 2009 LS poll. The BJP won 4, AUDF – 1, Bodoland -1 and AGP-1. In fact the BJP doubled its strength from 2 in 2004 to 4 in the 2009.

Among the regional parties it's the AGP alone that has won one seat in Assam. So it remains to be seen what impact the NERPF will make in Assam in 20014 LS polls.

Now coming to other states, Congress has won 2 out of 2 seats in Arunachal Pradesh, 2 out of 2 seats in Manipur, 1 out of 1 seat Mizoram and 1 out of 2 seats in Meghalaya. The Nationalist Congress won the other seat. The CPI (M) won 2 out of 2 seats from Tripura. It is only in Nagaland that the Naga Peoples Front won the lone seat from the state and the Sikkim Democratic Front doing the same in Sikkim.

So what was seen in 2009 was that out of 25 Lok Sbha seats the Congress won 13 seats, BJP 4 seats, CPI (M) two seats and the Nationalist Congress 1 seats, taking the total tally of the so called national parties to 20.

It is only 6 out of 26 seats that were won by the regional parties of the northeast.

It is in this backdrop the prospects of ten parties' regional front NERPF in the northeast region has to be assessed. Will they make a resounding impact in the 2014 LS poll just by coming together and forming an alliance of regional parties?

It will be naive to discard the importance of the regional parties in the northeast region, because they are on the ground and understand the ground realities well. However it would be too optimistic to give them thumbs-up, simply because they have formed a combined front.

The results of the 20014 Lok Sabha Polls are eagerly awaited from the northeast to assess the performance of the NERPF and its probable role in the national politics.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com



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