Amit Shah In Meghalaya, Says Will Turn It Into A "Model State"

The BJP's chief strategist in the North East, Himanta Biswa Sarma, has put together rainbow alliances with regional parties to win Assam last year and to form government in Manipur this year.

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Amit Shah In Meghalaya, Says Will Turn It Into A 'Model State'

BJP is hoping to wrest power from the Congress in Meghalaya and the Left in Tripura.

Shillong:  BJP chief Amit Shah, on Saturday, began a three-day whirlwind tour of three northeastern states - Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland - which will witness assembly polls this year. The party already rules three northeastern states - Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh - and aims to eventually bring all eight states into its kitty. The party is hoping to wrest power from the Congress in Meghalaya and the Left in Tripura. It is already a part of the alliance that rules Nagaland.

After a brief stop at Guwahati to visit the famous Kamakhya temple, the 53-year-old party chief's first stop was Meghalaya. The BJP wants to end the 15-year rule of the Congress, which is already facing a wave of defections by its lawmakers.

Over the last couple of weeks, the Congress has lost seven of its 30 legislators in the 60-seat assembly - most of them to the National People's Party, a BJP ally which is also part of the ruling alliance in Manipur. Among their ranks is a former Deputy Chief Minister, Rowell Lyngdoh, who commands a chunk of Khasi tribe votes in khasi hills region.

The BJP's chief strategist in the North East, Himanta Biswa Sarma, has put together rainbow alliances with regional parties to win Assam last year and to form government in Manipur this year. In Meghalaya, where the party won a single seat in the 2008 assembly elections, Mr Sarma has planned a similar strategy.

Mr Shah took on the Congress at the heart of its territory -- Tikrikilla in Garo hills is Chief Minister Mukul Sangma's stronghold. Apart from an anti-incumbency sentiment, Mukul Sangma also faces strong dissidence within the party.

"Prime Minister Modi sent a lot of money for Meghalaya's development. But here, the Congress leaders are looting it and building bungalows in Guwahati and Delhi," Mr Shah told the 30,000-strong audience.

Citing examples, he said there were no doctors in the hospitals of the state and 76 per cent of the state's health budget was not spent by the government. The Centre, he said also wished to develop the state as a tourism hub. "The tourism minister called for a meeting, but no one came... They (the Congress) are not interested in Meghalaya's tourism," he added.

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"Bring the BJP to power and within five years, Meghalaya will be the model state," he added amid loud cheers from the crowd.

On Sunday, Mr Shah will address twin rallies in Tripura, after which he will visit Nagaland, where the party is part of the coalition government.

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