Enthusiastic independent candidates in northeast poll fray (Election Special)

Imphal, April 18: A large number of independent candidates are in the poll fray in the northeast, with half of the aspirants in Assam having no party affiliation.

In Assam, of the total 170 candidates in 14 parliamentary constituencies, as many as 65 are independent candidates.

In Outer Manipur constituency, there were 18 candidates, of whom four were independents. In Tripura, of 25 candidates, four filed their nomination papers as independent candidates.

The situation was similar in the two Lok Sabha constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh where 11 candidates filed their nominations, of whom one is an independent.

For the lone Mizoram seat, an independent was among the three candidates.

But there were no independent candidates in the constituencies of Dibrugarh, Tura, Arunachal Pradesh East and Nagaland.

The major national political parties that were in the fray in this Lok Sabha election includes the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress who fielded candidates in all constituencies, except in one or two.

In Assam, other popular parties include the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the CPI-M. In Nagaland, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) is a key contender.

Other political parties in Arunachal Pradesh include the People’s Party of Arunachal, Trinamool Congress, and Lok Bharati.

There is the National People’s Party (NPP) In the Tura constituency, the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) in Krokrajhar, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura and Tripura Pragatishil Gramin Congress in Tripura West.The second highest number of candidates in Assam is fielded by the AGP. Except Kokrajhar and Diphu (Autonomous District) constituency, the AGP contested in all the constituencies.

Nagaland is the stronghold of incumbent Chief Minister Nephiu Rio who is contesting for the Lok Sabha.

An average voter turnout has been recorded in most of the polling stations in the first and second phase of voting in the northeastern states.

Many voters spoke of change and anti-incumbency.

The new party AAP could not make much of an impression. Moreover, AAP candidates were new faces with no record or impact in the northeast.

Like Rio is P.A. Sangma in Tura constituency, a political heavyweight and a popular personality from northeast India in mainstream electoral politics.

Kokrajhar that witnessed bloodshed in 2012 has four independent candidates and one Bodoland Peoples Front candidate out of the total six contenders.

The BJP had effectively centred its campaign on development in Manipur.

Ethnic and community polarisation runs high in Outer Manipur constituency. The entry of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) caused quite an apprehension in non-Naga areas.

The BJP has not fielded any candidates in Nagaland, Mizoram, Diphu Autonomous District (Assam) and Tura (Meghalaya).

(Ninglun Hanghal can be contacted at hanghal.ninglun@gmail.com)

IANS