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`Support for BJP growing in north-east'

By Sushanta Talukdar



Sushma Swaraj

GUWAHATI, APRIL 21. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj today said that her party had broken the ``myth that [the] BJP is anti-north-east and anti-Christian.''

Addressing a press conference at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi international airport here on her way to upper Assam, Ms. Swaraj claimed that the doubts prevailing in the minds of the people of the north-east due to a ``misinformation campaign that [the] BJP is anti-north-east'' have gone and more and more people of the region have come forward to support the party now.

``Though numerically, with just 25 Lok Sabha seats, the north-east may not be considered significant, getting four seats in the region is politically more significant than getting four seats in any northern States. Earlier, the Congress used to start its account with these seats. The scenario is substantially changing,'' she said. She also claimed that the BJP had already made a dent in Assam.

She pointed out that in all previous elections there had always been either an anti-incumbency or a sympathy vote. ``In all the past elections the people had decided whom to defeat. Pro-incumbent vote was not in the political dictionary. But this time the situation is totally different,'' Ms. Swaraj said.

Responding to a question, Ms. Swaraj said that there could not be a Central legislation to ban cow slaughter as it is a State subject. However, she said that 15 States in the country had passed the legislation. Asked if the BJP-ruled Government in Arunachal Pradesh would bring in such legislation, the Union Minister said that it would be for the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly to decide.

On the outcome of the exit polls after the first phase of polling in the country, Ms. Swaraj claimed that for the first time a ``pro-incumbent'' wave had been created on the basis of the performance of the NDA Government.

``The exit polls showed that there has been a sharp decline in Congress votes in the States ruled by them while in the BJP-ruled States the votes in favour of the incumbent have increased,'' she added

Ms. Swaraj was on a day's tour to the State to address election rallies of party candidates for Dibrugarh and Jorhat constituencies, which would go to the polls on April 26.

The party has fielded the former president of the All-Assam Tea Tribe Students' Association (AATTSA), Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, against the Congress heavyweight and sitting MP, Paban Singh Ghaotwar, in Dibrugarh constituency in a bid to make inroads into the Congress stronghold among the tea tribes.

In Jorhat constituency, the BJP has fielded Dayananda Borgohain against the sitting Congress MP, Bijoy Krishna Handique.

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