A look back into political developments in Northeast 2021


Guwahati: The year 2021 has finally come to an end and the Northeast has seen its fair share of political developments in the region. Be it  Himanta Biswa Sarma taking the reigns as the Chief Minister of Assam, Nagaland going opposition-less, or TMC blitzkrieg in Tripura and Meghalaya the political landscape in the Northeast has seen significant changes past year. Northeast Live highlights some of the unmissable events in Northeast politics as we enter 2022. 

Assam:  Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma take the reigns as Chief Minister

A government change marked 2021 in Assam as BJP top strategist in Eastern India Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as Chief Minister creating history.

Sarma spearheaded the BJP-led alliance to a comfortable win in Assam once again in the assembly elections decimating the Congress-led Mahajut which also comprised of the Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF. Even though the BJP had not projected a CM face ahead of the polls, the choice was always between incumbent CM Sarbananda Sonowal and BJP’s go-to-man Himanta Biswa Sarma. Eventually, sources say, Sarma was rewarded for ensuring that the party secures a second consecutive term in office, besides expanding its base in the region.

Sonowal, who was the first BJP CM of Assam, was given a Union Cabinet berth and is currently the minister of Shipping and Ayush.

Sarma’s grand run into the polls and his blazing campaign trail drew praise from all corners with even some opposition candidates expressing helplessness at the lack of leadership in their respective parties.

Besides the good show in Eastern Assam and a dogged fight in Barak Valley, the BJP master strategist ensured the rise of the Pramod-Boro-led UPPL in BTR as Hagrama Mohilari-led BPF’s numbers dwindled to just 4 of the total 12 seats. In all, it was BJP dominance all around as far as Assam was concerned in the year 2021.

And the victory run did not stop here. In the by-elections that followed, the BJP and allies swept all 5 seats dealing a massive blow to the Congress and AIUDF. The 5 seats that went to the polls were Mariani, Bhabanipur, Thowra, Gossaigaon, and Tamulpur. Significantly, 3 of these seats were Congress and AIUDF bastions but the results showed complete BJP domination even in a seat like Bhabanipur where the AIUDF was unmatched earlier. The by-poll victory further established BJP domination in Assam once again reposing full faith in the leadership of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. The loss, meanwhile, came as a big blow to the Congress which failed to retain even a single seat in the by-poll not only in Assam but across three Northeastern states.

Meanwhile, more surprises and shocks may be in store for the grand old party in 2022 as several other legislators seem to be in touch with the BJP.

Meghalaya: Mukul Sangma’s departure to TMC

And it’s not just Assam, as we shift focus now to the political developments in neighbouring Meghalaya in the year 2021, the Congress received a bigger jolt in the hill state where over two third of its MLAs including former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma joined the Trinamool Congress. The Congress thus faced its worst crisis ever in Meghalaya where it was a formidable opposition for the last 3 and half years.  

Former chief minister Mukul Sangma led the coup against AICC-appointed Congress state president Vincent Pala as 12 MLAs exited the party. Mukul, along with 10 other MLAs, joined the TMC making it the principal opposition party in Meghalaya.

Such was the plight of the Congress post the desertions that it offered to coordinate with the NPP-led Conrad Sangma government in the state.

Sangma’s move left the Congress with just five MLAs. Mukul Sangma who has been long calling for unity within Congress said he was left with no other option but to take the step to join TMC for people’s sake. This move gave TMC a strong foothold in an NE state where it had no presence whatsoever.

Nagaland: Formation of  Opposition-less  Government

Shifting focus to Nagaland now, the state witnessed a historic move by legislators when opposition NPF joined the ruling coalition to pave way for an opposition-less government in the state. It was on July 19 that the Opposition NPF submitted a letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio requesting for an all-party government to help reach an early settlement to the Naga Political issue. The new ruling coalition was called the United Democratic Alliance. The nomenclature of the United Democratic Alliance for the Opposition-less government in Nagaland was unanimously approved by the legislators and party leaders of NDPP, BJP, NPF and Independent MLAs. Significantly, the NPF made it clear that it does not require any portfolios to be part of the opposition-less government.

Tripura: TMC’s tireless charge,  BJP’s Resilience  & TIPRA Motha’s rise

Onto Tripura now, Tripura is another state where the Trinamool Congress made inroads in the year 2021. With top TMC leaders descending on state frequently, the party has been able to attract the attention of people in the state which will go to polls in 2023. What transpired also was a war of words and massive showdown of the TMC with the ruling BJP resulting in political violence in parts of the state. It was not a memorable year for CM Biplab Deb and company for the most part. From facing a rebellion within the BJP led by former Health Minister Sudip Roy Burman to keeping the TMC at bay, Deb has been a busy man throughout. However, the sweeping win in the Civic Body and Nagar Panchayat polls put Deb and the BJP in the driver’s seat once again. The BJP won 329 of the 334 Civic Body and Nagar Panchayat seats while the TMC only won one seat. But the TMC had its reasons to cheer as it bagged nearly 24% of the vote share in the Civic body polls.

Meanwhile, the political war was not restricted to the BJP and TMC. A newborn social organization turned political party, the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance or Tipra led by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma stunned everyone by capturing the TTADC or Autonomous District Council in the state. The TIPRA also brought to the forefront the Greater Tipraland demand once again and even forced BJP ally IPFT to back its separate statehood call. Pradyot Debbarma’s entry into ADC changed the political scenario in the state.

Overall it was an exciting year for politics in the Northeast which saw new trends emerging and the Congress further diminishing in strength.