Several media outlets across the country attribute the NDPP-BJP win to the ‘Brand Modi’ saying that the Prime Minister is what gave them the victory. In a sense, the party and the electorate are inherently inclined to support the party that Modi represents as long as his government is at the center. Nagaland would have supported whoever the Prime Minister was, even if it hadn’t been Modi.
The BJP central leadership from Delhi, including National President JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah, as well as Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, campaigned hard for the Nagaland Assembly election with the NDPP-BJP coalition promising ‘fair development’ for eastern Nagaland as their key goal.
The BJP even sent its home minister, Amit Shah, who had been negotiating an agreement with organizations advocating a ‘Frontier Nagaland’ state, to campaign in the districts of Mon and Tuensang.
Despite the fact that its ally NDPP raised its seat count from 18 in 2018 to 25 in 2023, the BJP’s tally remained steady at 12. Several of the seats it had controlled were lost, though new ones were acquired.
The BJP lost two ministerial seats, V Kashiho Sangtam in Seyochung Sitimi and S Pangnyu Phom in Longleng by 930 and 5270 votes to the NPP and NCP candidates respectively.
H Haiying of the BJP also lost in Noklak by 734 votes after winning it by a mere 5 votes in 2018.
To compensate, the saffron party did win three additional seats this time around: Phomching, Longkhim Chare, and Tuensang Sadar I assembly constituencies with margins ranging from 1,500 to 5,600 votes.
Despite Home Minister Amit Shah labeling the grievances made by Nagas from the eastern part of the state as “genuine” and claiming that a solution is “not far away,” the BJP did not gain much ground.
BJP could win in only 4 seats out of 8 it contested in the eastern districts of Nagaland. It may be noted here that Shah’s influence prompted the Eastern Nagaland Peoples Organization to drop its demand for a poll boycott and during his first electoral rally in Mon Town, he also hinted at increased budgetary allocation, more council authority, and equal development.
Nevertheless, the BJP candidate from Mon, Er Cheong Konyak, was defeated by the NCP candidate. As a result, it is clear that the BJP’s rally in Eastern Nagaland did not provide the expected results. In fact, candidates who had been denied BJP tickets, such as Nuklutoshi in Mokokchung district, defeated NDPP Legislator Imnatiba.
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated time and again that in Nagaland, candidates are more important than parties, and village politics are more important than party politics.
In the final analysis, media outlets attributing the return of NDPP-BJP to power in Nagaland as the result of “Brand Modi” are grossly inaccurate. In fact, the BJP earned just 18.8% of the votes, while its ally, the NDPP, received 32.2%. It was the Nagaland’s regional party that got the maximum seats and not the Saffron party indicating that the biggest ‘rival’ for BJP is not the Indian National Congress but the regional party.