The Bharatiya Janata Party-helmed North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) is scheduled to meet in Guwahati Wednesday evening in a bid to take its ‘Congress-free’ northeast mission forward.
This would be NEDA’s first meeting after its inception on May 24, the day the BJP formed its first government in Assam in alliance with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).
AGP and BJP would be attending the meeting for the first time along with three other regional parties – National People’s Party and United Democratic Party of Meghalaya and the Mizo National Front of Mizoram.
People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) and Naga People’s Front (NPF) of Nagaland are the other constituents of the forum cobbled together to give Congress a stiff competition in the region where it runs three governments.
BJP president Amit Shah chaired the inaugural meeting of the forum in May, and is expected to attend NEDA’s first convention in July.
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Kalikho Pul of PPA and his Nagaland counterpart TR Zeliang of NPF will attend Wednesday’s meeting. AGP and BJP have confirmed participation too.
“We have been invited for an initiative that would help the cause of regionalism,” AGP president Atul Bora said.
NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is Assam’s minister for health and education, said NEDA has realistic goals for ensuring BJP and its allies win most of the 25 Lok Sabha seats across the eight-state in northeast.
“Our common objective is to oust the Congress. We will be working together to help our allies where they are strong and strengthen our base in areas where we are strong,” Sarma said.
The BJP and its allies rule half of the eight states in the northeast. While the saffron party heads the government in Assam, ally PPA rules Arunachal Pradesh and NPF rules Nagaland.
Sikkim Democratic Front is considered a friend since Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling had attended the inaugural NEDA meeting last month.
The Congress is holding on to its dissidence-troubled governments in Manipur and Meghalaya. It also rules Mizoram while the Left Front is firmly entrenched in Tripura.