How India's North East became a huge success story for the BJP Video Credit: Gulf News

In the end, it was a comfortable win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first three state elections of the year in India — Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

The party has come back to power in Tripura, and its allies will lead the governments in the other two states. There are six more state elections this year and possibly Jammu and Kashmir as well.

These north east states only account for 5 Lok Sabha seats out of a total of 543 seats but even so, this is a morale booster for the BJP.

However, the assembly elections have been another disappointment for the Congress, though the results of the by polls have given the party something to be happy about, including a stunning upset for the BJP in Maharashtra.

So what do the results tell us?

Here are the big takeaways:

Boost for BJP’s North East expansion:

Looking at the BJP’s performance in these states, it is almost hard to believe that the party was a non entity here only 10 years ago and is now one of the dominant forces.

Retaining power in Tripura and beating the Congress-Left combine is quite an achievement for the BJP. In 2018, they ousted the Left from the state after 25 years.

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The victories in the north east are also ideologically very significant for the BJP and the RSS, which have worked for decades to chip away in these states and widen the sangh’s base.

The central government’s welfare schemes are a key factor in the BJP’s success as well. The wins are also being pitched by the Prime Minister as evidence that the BJP is not “anti minority”.

In his victory speech to party workers on Thursday, Narendra Modi said “the people of Goa and now Christians in Nagaland and Meghalaya keep supporting us”.

This victory is all the more significant since the Church in Nagaland, a Christian majority state, had advised people to guard against “communal forces”.

A word here also for the new force in Tripura — the Tipra Motha. The alliance got an incredible 13 seats, the second highest. It’s pitch for a separate homeland for tribals shows that this is an issue with serious resonance in the state.

Congress flops in North East, so does Mamata:

The failure of the Congress is yet another disappointment for the party in the electoral space. Barring the recent victory in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress has not had much to celebrate.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra may be seen as a success by the Congress, but it does not substitute electoral victories. Rahul Gandhi made a fleeting appearance in Meghalaya and none elsewhere. And it shows. Just like he skipped the campaign in Gujarat except for one day.

The Congress alliance with the Left in Tripura also did not pay off, and the party’s defeat in Meghalaya comes as no surprise either. All its 21 MLAs had switched sides, mostly to the TMC, in recent years leaving them with zero legislators going into these polls.

The poor performance of Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is also a wake up call for her national expansion plans. The party won only 5 seats in Meghalaya and none in Tripura. The TMC also suffered a shock defeat in a Bengal by poll.

And good news for Congress in bypolls but opposition ‘unity’ setback:

The good news for the Congress came from its shock defeat of the BJP candidate in the Kasba Peth assembly by poll in Pune, the first major win for the MVA alliance after the Shiv Sena split.

This seat was a BJP stronghold for nearly 30 years and the Congress candidate was a joint one of behalf of the MVA which comprises of the Congress, Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and the NCP.

The Congress win is being seen as a warning sign for the ruling BJP-Shinde Sena coalition in Maharashtra. The Congress also defeated the TMC in the Sagardighi assembly bypoll in Bengal.

Mamata meanwhile has ruled out an alliance with the Congress or the Left for the 2024 general elections, another setback to any opposition unity efforts.