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How is Rio important to Himanta and Assam CM is vital for BJP?

Nagaland News

But Rahul likes to present himself as a Shiv Bhakt

Nirendra Dev
New Delhi, March 12: Indian voters did not hold Prime Minister Narendra Modi accountable in 2019 vis-à-vis the promise of ‘Achhe Din’. Naga voters too hardly bothered about ‘excellence’ promise made by NDPP in 2018 and also 2023.
Those who underestimate the voters will do well to keep it in mind that they may hold both accountable in 2024 — in Nagaland and also at the national level. Now that voting and vote count are over in three States with substantial Christian populations, let’s get geared up for politics amid sloganeering of ‘Jai Sri Ram’.
This brings us to debate about Hindutva and how despite Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra being Christians and Narendra Modi unhesitatingly calling himself a ‘proud Hindu’, Nagas have chosen to vote for his saffron party.
In his article for Times of India, columnist S Swaminathan Aiyar argues lucidly. “Is Rahul Gandhi proud of what he is?” he asks, referring to Rahul’s grandpa Feroze Gandhi’s Parsi connections and also Christian links of Sonia and brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
Election is a very serious business with the BJP and more so with the Modi-Shah duo. It is in this scheme of things that Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has an importance of his own. Both the Centre and Rio operate generally through the good office of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Hence the NEDA convener gets the importance he deserves; and at times, more than he deserves.
Amit Shah believes in the efficacy of leaders, in the “ability” to convert every possible voter into a committed finger pressing the Lotus symbol on the EVM button. He also believes Himanta can deliver so in Assam and a few other States.
Closer scrutiny of BJP’s poll management suggests that while PM Modi can trigger a ‘wave’, Shah and his team will have to deliver the last mile. Himanta cannot do it alone and here comes the friendship of Neiphiu Rio. It is more crucial as Rio and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma are Christians. An enterprising friend with ‘adequate resources’ (read deep pocket) can always work as a morale booster. This is where we see some connections between Rio and Himanta, especially in the context of the fast-approaching future election management.
In the new election management team for the BJP for 2024 Lok Sabha polls, BJP president JP Nadda has already decided to enlist the services of three ‘organisational’ level leaders — Tarun Chugh, Sunil Bansal and also Vinod Tawde.
Both Chugh and Bansal have been to Nagaland and understandably have taken necessary ‘field notes’ for battles elsewhere.
BJP sources revealed in Delhi that the saffron party has set a target of 400 plus for next year’s polls and in the entire game has also decided to focus on North Eastern States and also States such as Odisha and West Bengal. Chugh will understandably make use of his ‘knowledge’ of fighting and winning polls in tough States such as Nagaland and Manipur and also in the southern State of Telangana.
There are 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana and in 2019, the Lotus party did well to pick up four seats — a neat gain of three than the 2014 performance.
While the Northeast as a bloc is crucial for the 25 Lok Sabha seats, Odisha has 21 and with West Bengal’s 42 it comes to 88 seats. These 88 seats would be very important from the 2024 polls point of view.
In 2019, the ‘Modi wave’ had resulted in victories for BJP in 40 seats.
The law of the average suggests the saffron party will face stiff challenges in some northern and western States. Sources said the BJP has done well in assembly polls in 2017 and 2022 in Uttar Pradesh and is pretty strong in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat. Nevertheless, the BJP poll strategists are working overtime to make a significant deeper penetration in the north east and especially in Odisha and Telangana.
Winning is more important than protecting the ego or family interest. Yogi Adityanath is a key BJP vote getter across India, but in Nagaland and Meghalaya, Yogi was kept away.
On the other hand, look at Shashi Tharoor who landed with Congress president Malikarjun Kharge at Dimapur but was denied the opportunity to address the rally.
Aiyar diagnoses that Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi “lacks conviction and the fire in the belly” to play protector of Christians in the north east.
He aptly points out that instead Rahul likes to present himself as a Shiv Bhakt Brahman who also puts on the sacred thread.
Aiyar is ruthlessly candid, and says Rahul’s ploy has “failed miserably”. He gets fewer votes than ever. Yet he persists.

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