Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and thanked the voters of the eight northeastern states for reposing faith in the saffron party. In an interview with The Indian Express, Sarma said that there is tremendous love for PM Narendra Modi in the region as well as in West Bengal. He said that the BJP winning 18 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the eight NE states was its best performance and it may not be able to push its tally much beyond that.
Sarma, who quit the Congress and joined the BJP just ahead of the Assam Assembly elections in 2016, is credited with crafting the BJP’s expansion in the northeastern states — Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. While Assam has 14 parliamentary constituencies, Arunachal, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura have two seats each. The rest states have one seat each.
Sarma said that he was given a target to bring a BJP government or one by a BJP ally in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in every northeastern state which he has achieved. “We won 18 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats. If you ask me, that is the best we can possibly go because other (seats) like Dhubri, Barpeta etc have an almost 100% minority population. We have plateaued now in the NE,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party won 18 seats in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections from the NE states, helping the saffron party go beyond the tally of 303. It was the party’s best overall performance in the general elections so far and also in the NE states. In 2014, the BJP had won seven seats in Assam and one in Arunachal Pradesh. The Congress had won three in Assam, five in the rest of the northeast.
Speaking about BJP’s good show in West Bengal where the party won 18 of the 42 parliamentary seats, Sarma said that Mamata Banerjee didn’t deliver what she had promised. He said that Banerjee stormed to power with a promise to rid West Bengal of criminalisation of politics, appeasement and to change the work culture. “However, when she came to power, she continued the same culture,” he said.
Sarma also said that he was asked by the party leadership to campaign in West Bengal and he did. The BJP leader said that he was surprised by the response of people to his rally in Mathurapur of South 24 Parganas district.
“There is also tremendous love for PM Modi. I was asked to organise a rally in Mathurapur (South 24 Parganas district). There the people told me that we will get just about 30,000 people with our own organisation, the rest will automatically come. I could not understand how that could work. But it did. There were 1,50,000 people at the rally addressed by the PM,” he said.