NEW DELHI: After registering a formidable presence in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, Bihar-based Janata Dal United (JDU) has stepped up its preparations for the upcoming Nagaland Assembly polls scheduled in early 2023. Senior leaders of the party who are privy to the poll preparations have confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that the party leadership would not leave any stone unturned to make an impact in Nagaland and in the first week of June, the state executive committee meeting of the Nagaland unit has been convened to discuss about the roadmap for the elections. Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Afaque Ahmed Khan, JDU national general secretary and in-charge of the northeast region who played a vital role in the party’s success in both Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, said, “In the first week of June, we have convened the state executive committee meeting of the Nagaland unit to discuss about our poll preparation and what more need to be done. Nagaland is not an unknown political terrain for us. Even in the last Assembly elections held in 2018, we got roughly five percent votes and emerged victorious in one Assembly segment in the state. In few places, we were in second position. Our organization has been very active in the state since 2018. After the state executive committee meeting, we have also planned to organize a programme for the whole of northeast which will be attended by our national president in which we will also discuss the Meghalaya Assembly elections and decide on whether we have to fight it or not.”
The JDU won seven of the 15 seats it contested in Arunachal Pradesh in the 2019 Assembly polls and in the recently concluded Manipur Assembly elections, the Nitish Kumar-led party won six Assembly segments, its highest ever in the state and polled roughly 11% votes. Many observers who are analyzing Nitish Kumar’s political trajectory in recent times believe that by making JDU a force in the northeast, the Bihar Chief Minister wants to project himself as the sole flag bearer of the Janata party tradition who had a mass following outside his own state. “Nitish Kumar is a natural flag bearer of socialist tradition. His governance model is time and again recognized by the people of the country, specially the northeast,” added Khan. Among all the parties which have come out from the erstwhile Janata family of 1980s and 1990s, only the JDU is showing presence outside its own state, while for the rest of the parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), their presence had eroded with time outside their own state. The JDU had formed a sub-group within the party named North East Executive Council (NEEC) to look after the party’s affairs in the northeast.