Conrad Sangma's National People Party (NPP), a BJP ally that is contesting the April-May national election in 14 out of 25 seats by itself in the northeast, might benefit the BJP, sources in the party claim. Because they are contesting separately, disgruntled BJP lawmakers who defected in Arunachal Pradesh, went to the NPP instead of the Congress, an NPP leader who didn't wish to be named has told NDTV. This would be crucial if the two parties revive their alliance after the elections.
The BJP hopes that its Northeast Development Alliance (NEDA) partners would rejoin the alliance after the Lok Sabha election.
"In some of the Lok Sabha seats, our NEDA partners are contesting against the BJP as they are contesting separately. We welcome their decision and wish them luck. However, after the elections, they will join the NEDA, they will support PM Modi post poll," the BJP's National general secretary Ram Madhav said.
NPP candidates fielded in seats like Outer Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh West may eat into the opposition votes, giving the BJP an edge, the NPP source said.
Amid resentment in the northeast over the centre's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, a number of BJP leaders had switched sides in the northeast.
Though the Congress attacked the BJP over the issue, Mr Sangma's party has also put forward a tough stand against the bill, drawing in the defectors.
The NPP's electoral positioning might actually help the BJP in four states - Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
But the top NPP leadership says the entire idea to contest the election separately is to create the party's own identity.
"In Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, it has been proved that the NPP has its own identity, and because of the position that Conrad Sangma has taken on the Citizenship Bill, not only the indigenous people but even minorities see us as a political option," Vivekraj Wangkhem, NPP leader, told NDTV.
The Congress, meanwhile, has called the NPP the B-team of the BJP.
"It's a B-team of the BJP and they are helping the party. Most tribal states don't support Hindutva so the NPP is making inroads in their favour," former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told NDTV.