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Cracks in BJP’s NE grand alliance

GUWAHATI, MAR 17 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 3/17/2019 11:48:19 AM IST

Days after its announcement, cracks have developed in Bharatiya Janata Party’s grand alliance with parties in North East for the coming Lok Sabha polls after several smaller players decided to field own candidates and refuted having any pre-poll tie-up.

On Saturday, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), partner in BJP-led coalition government in Tripura, announced its own candidates for the two LS seats in the state after talks on seat sharing with the BJP failed.

“Since we are part of the government in Tripura and also a partner of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), we had asked BJP to give us one seat in the state. But they refused. Hence, we have decided to field our own candidates,” NC Debbarma president of IPFT said.

While Debbarma, who is the revenue minister in the Biplab Deb-led government, would contest from the Tripura East seat, Suklacharan Noatia would be the IPFT candidate from Tripura West.

“It will be a friendly fight in Tripura, but we would campaign separately. We are still part of the government and it is for the BJP to decide whether they want to continue their alliance with us,” Debbarma added.

The development in Tripura came a day after Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) announced that there would be no alliance with BJP for the lone LS seat and the simultaneous assembly polls in Sikkim.

While details of why the tie-up between the national party and the main opposition in Sikkim didn’t materialize are not available, reports say there were differences over seat sharing and certain demands by the SKM.

“The SKM would filed candidates in all the 32 assembly seats and lone Lok Sabha seat in Sikkim,” PTI quoted SKM spokesperson Sonam Bhutia from Gangtok.

On Wednesday BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav had announced formation of a grand alliance with several parties in northeast and claimed it would win at least 22 of the total 25 seats in the region.

“The BJP, NPP, NDPP, AGP and BPF will fight together in Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with the mission of defeating Congress party in the hustings,” Madhav wrote on Facebook.

He also stated that the party would fight the election together with IPFT in Tripura and with SKM in Sikkim.

National People’s Party (NPP) chief and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma also shot down Madhav’s claims, insisting that there would be no pre-poll alliance with the BJP.

“The NPP is a party with own identity and we will fight elections on our own terms. In the states where we feel we should put up our candidates, we will do so. There will be no pre-poll alliance with BJP,” Sangma said hours after Madhav’s announcement.

Sangma said NPP had also sent clear message to Ram Madhav at a meeting held on march 12 with the chief ministers from Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya that it will not stitch any pre-poll alliance with the BJP.

“We are working towards fielding candidates in all the 25 Lok Sabha seats across the North eastern states. It is not practically possible for us to immediately to field candidates … but wherever we get a positive response and wherever it is possible to organise our party in a short period we will put a candidate,” Sangma said.

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who is also convenor of North-East Democratic Alliance, had stated that though there would be understanding with NPP, a full-fledged alliance won’t be possible between both parties for Lok Sabha polls.

Meanwhile, in Nagaland, NPP was likely to setup its own candidate to fight the by-election to the 26-Aonglenden constituency, despite the ruling coalition setting up its consensus candidate in which National People’s Party is also part of the alliance.

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