The fate of the candidates from 91 seats, spread across 20 states and Union Territories, is sealed for over 40 days in the ballot boxes, being the first to go to poll on April 11, in the seven-phase election to elect the 17th Lok Sabha session. As the rest of the states are still filing nomination, seeking votes, the prediction for the 91 seats polled are now doing the round. The second phase will be held on April 18 next. The polls will conclude on May 19, and counting will be held on May 23, 2019.
While the National Parties like Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party are most prominent, in all a total of 2,293 political parties are in the fray according to the Election Commission of India’s latest data on political parties, registered till March 9, 2019.
North East, having just 25 seats in total, used to be the vote bank of the INC. But with 2013 and then 2018 Assembly election, the Congress have lost its grip over the region for forming the state government. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP managed to make an inroads after Assam managed to form the BJP state government. But with the adamant attitude of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to implement the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2016, it is sure to swing the vote towards the Regional Parties who are opposing the Bill. However, there are just 25 seats, hence the BJP is not worried, knowing that the same will gain votes in the states and region having more seats.
The region with 25 seats strangely did not pick up the issue of national security, whereas, by proximity, the region is close to international borders, while the inter-state border disputes found more prominence in election campaigns. Issues which shook the Parliament like Rafale jets’ purchase or the Bofors guns are not at all the concern in the region.
The rest of the Lok Sabha seats are concerned about the fate of the farmers’ welfare, while from this region, where Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and aquaculture are major practices, yet the farmers issues does not affect the region. As the produces and products from this region are limited to domestic consumption, it is strange that none of the national political parties or Independent candidates and regional parties ever take up the marketing strategies for such produces, or to encourage agriculture from the region for self-sufficiency and to improve the economy of the region.
Unemployment too is affecting the region, but the first preference of the indigenous tribals is the state government job; very small percentage looks for Central government posts. Strangely, many youth from the region hold the degree in Business Management, Engineering, Agriculture and other Professional trades, yet they shy away to venture into entrepreneurship, while creating an artificial unemployment awaiting government post. Except in the case of Medical, where even the bonded doctors refuse to join the government hospital or government post.
Recently held election on April 11 too witnessed the similar pattern of personal charisma, local issues like reservation policy, quota. Structural infrastructure like bridges and road, Industrial Policy and also the Mining Policy dominated the election campaigns. Hope the elected candidates will also take up more central schemes and policy for the region, so that by next general election, more participation of national politics and policy can take shape.