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“India will progress only when northeast develops,” said Modi at a rally in Manipur’s capital. “I salute the culture of Manipur. I salute the soil of Manipur,” he said while speaking in Hindi and English.

Modi spoke about Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam’s death by beating in New Delhi and called it a “national shame”.

The eight-state North-East is not the BJP’s happy hunting ground. The party had its moments, but the region has remained its final frontier.

The Christian-majority population in some hill states, the status of the Congress as the only “national party brand”, more trust in regional parties and perception of the BJP as “too Hindi belt” are the major factors.

Modi’s elevation as his party’s prime ministerial nominee has coincided with a slide in the BJP’s fortunes in the north-East, which offers 25 MPs. The dismal show was indicated in the elections to the 40-member Mizoram assembly in December.

The 17 candidates the BJP fielded in Mizoram got 2,139 votes, and together they finished 413 votes ahead of NOTA (none of the above). The party’s performance in Christian-majority Mizoram was understandable. But then, it hardly has anything to indicate its popularity elsewhere in the North-East.

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