Politics is power. And no less powerful are the politicians who engage in this contention for representation of the masses through skillful employment of all their faculties, in body and in spirit for charting out a course of their own that will make them party to all the immense appeal the world of the diplomats is known to reside in. Particularly during elections, it is the wit and judgement of the netas and all that make all the difference in the poll manifesto, revealing therefore such instances of diplomatic unprecedence that makes all the difference when it comes to claiming that coveted hot seat of power. With the north eastern region of India in particular gearing up for the 2021 elections with aggressive campaigning by its scores of politically affiliated leaders, the stage is set for what is indeed going to be a spectacle of magnificent magnitude. Here’s outlining the most standout politicians from this part of the country who promises a poll full of exemplary character-
Arguably the most iconic political leader from the State of Arunachal Pradesh and North East India in recent times, the Voice of North East India Kiren Rijiju has a tale of his own to tell when it comes to charting his course in politics at the national level. As the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports as well as of Minority Affairs, Rijiju has only furthered his political assertiveness, building on his reputation as one of the most outspoken Parliamentarians when he had been a member of the Lok Sabha. Even however in his stature as the best young MP as accorded by many national news agencies and magazines, Rijiju has seen himself ‘evolve’ through quite a few instances of controversial leanings. From threatening to beat up opponents with shoes to tweeting that India’s Hindu population was “reducing” as they “never convert people” and minorities were flourishing here, unlike in some other countries, Khandu too have taken his political liberties a bit too far. That said however, as one of the fittest politicians himself, Rijiju sure has been able to make the sporting scenario of the country more intriguing than what it had tended to be, with such measures that called up public figures and celebrities to lend their support to the domain, while himself being actively associated with it all throughout.
Himanta Biswa Sarma
While Assam has been no stranger to producing political stalwarts over time, the mass phenomenon that Himanta Biswa Sarma has turned out be perhaps defies precedence. In his current standing in the BJP and among the people of Assam vis a vis numerous issues of contention but most prominently the Citizenship Amendment Act, Sarma might not exactly be eligible to be lauded as a politician solely committed to the welfare of the masses. But through his contriving scheme of efforts that has ensured that he remains in much fame despite certain party specific measures to the contrary, Sarma has established the dimension of his political acumen.
Astute and assured in his administrative capabilities that has been a further revelation of sorts in his upbeat, if not outright adept manner in handling the COVID-19 situation in Assam, here’s a man whose political wisdom has held him in good stead all through his ‘reign’ over the state, even when he hasn’t been made CM yet, with either the Congress or the BJP as his backing. Quite notably, even as only the ‘second man’ in either of the successive governments, Sarma has been the one completely ‘out there’ in his mannerisms and his assertion, when Congressman Late Tarun Gogoi had been the CM, and more so now with the BJP backed Sarbananda Sonowal at the helm of affairs, at least in portfolio. It indeed is his wit and acumen that has Himanta Biswa Sarma emerging today to be the most dominant political player of the state, not just as a member of the BJP but as an institution in himself. Having served as Finance Minister as well as Education and Health Minister and other such numerous ministerial holdings to his credit, Sarma indeed has been also as vital in effecting quite a turnaround of Assam as far as progress is concerned. With a stupendous work record as a politician, impeccable oratory skills and an enthusiastic humour coupled with a remarkable streak of spontaneity, it’s not difficult to see why HBS has been the man to watch out for in the Assam political scene for more than a decade now.
More an activist than a politician up till now, peasant leader Akhil Gogoi however has stirred the political scenario of Assam to quite an extent. The founder secretary of the peasant organization, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Gogoi has, since mid-2009, been leading a statewide movement against construction of big dams in the ecologically sensitive regions of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Currently in jail due to his involvement in the CAA protests, Gogoi however will be a force to reckon with in the coming Assam assembly elections, which he will be contesting as the candidate of the newly floated Raijor Dal, that emerged as a result of differences between him and the state government under the BJP pertaining to CAA issues.
As the son of three time former CM Tarun Gogoi, Gaurav Gogoi plays out on a dual field when it comes to politics in Assam. On one hand, there is the barrage of expectations from him as the one who needs to continue the legacy of his illustrious father; on the other hand there also is the loyalty catering to him courtesy of that same identity of being the deceased leader’s son. Charismatic and flamboyant, Gogoi managed to mark his entry into the parliament as a member of its Lower House on his very first political outing. However, subsequent attempts at replicating the same command of his aura in his home state has not been as successful, mostly perhaps because of his inexperience in the face of a more demanding and calculative culture of politics and also in part undone by his own ignorance in appealing to the masses, through deliverance of speeches that drew some ridiculous analogies and did not project him as fluent in his native tongue and therefore perhaps not suitable enough a candidate to further the interests of the people of Assam in the highly perceptive purview of the political.
N. Biren Singh
The current Chief Minister of Manipur, the profile of N. Biren Singh is possibly the most distinctive among politicians of north east Indian states. That is a distinction attributable not to his diversified markings in political territory but rather what he had been before embarking on a political journey. For someone who began his career as a footballer and ventured into journalism later before finally taking the leap into something differently arduous, Biren Singh comes across as a versatile politician whose experience across a vast range of societal aspects has shaped him right for dealing with the many challenges that politics comes riddled with.
Having been arrested for sedition charges in 2000 by the then government when he was still serving as a journalist, Singh interestingly pursued a somewhat similar route when his government arrested a journalist on somewhat similar charges soon after he became CM in 2017. Though praised by the masses for his friendly attitude and awarded also the Champions of Change in 2018 for his exceptional work to the nation, Biren Singh continued to court controversy until only recently with not only such measures that saw Manipur being increasingly faced with internet bans, but also when he was criticised for lack of action during the Covid-19 pandemic and in another instance when he was seen walking into a facility with hands folded, even as schoolchildren lined up on both sides, kneeling and bowing their heads touching the ground.
The current Chief Minister of the State who at one time also enjoyed the distinction of serving as the youngest Finance Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma is as notable a politician from north east India as any other. The son of another illustrious politician P. A. Sangma who too had ruled over Meghalaya as its CM for a couple of years, Conrad Sangma makes for an enigmatic presence in the political realm with such interests that renders him quite diversive for someone requiring to submit to the rugged facade of an arena concerned with diplomatic skill at every level. As president of the PA Sangma Foundation, which functions for the betterment in sectors of education and environment, and also runs four colleges in rural Meghalaya, this vibrant political leader has managed to work out his way from the realm of the routine that so rampantly marks politics and politicians.
Apart from his social leanings however, Sangma’s interests spans also the expanse of such artistic pursuits generally not fiddled with by those with political affiliations or motivations, at least in India. An avid reader and a music aficionado, it also happens to be his penchant with the latter that has made Conrad Sangma the politician to root for among the young masses. Indeed, for the Chief Minister of a state to be unwinding by playing a Iron Maiden song Wasted Years while strumming his electric guitar and earning the likes for it on social media is the definition of ‘cool’ not encountered in politics everyday, lending therefore this particular honcho from Meghalaya a charm not easily replicated, not even at the national level.
For a former rebel turned politician to be leading the state for another term after two previous consecutive terms speaks volumes of the impact that Mizoram CM Zoramthanga has been able to exert on the masses as a suave politician knowing his way about the ministerial. During his stint as an insurgent that saw him spent a substantial amount of time being underground, Zoramthanga had gone to Beijing on a secret mission, spent time in Islamabad, escaped a raid in Chittagong and negotiated with Indian spies to return to India. Having been concerned with the polity of the state of Mizoram even before he first handedly jumped into the political front as a member of the Mizo National Front thereby accords this veteran leader a political status that projects him firmly as one devoted wholeheartedly to the cause of the state and its people.
The only Chief Minister of the state to have served three consecutive terms in its history, Neiphiu Rio might be the oldest among the politicians we have on this list but he is as smart and suave as any of his younger counterparts. Indeed with great experience comes greater enigma and Mr. Rio stands testament to that. His political journey has been one interspersed with numerous portfolios, but most notable in his long tenure as the Nagaland CM has been his dismissal as Chief Minister when President’s Rule was imposed in the state during his first term in office. Reemerging however as the single largest force in subsequent elections, it has been Rio’s association with politics since his youth that had eased the path for his resounding success as a veteran politician. Beyond his political career however, Neiphiu Rio is another man versed in the language of the arts. Awarded The Mother Teresa Millennium award, for his outstanding leadership and contributions to politics, Rio’s penchant for the arts, music specifically, also has seen him gain recognition as someone who had played a key role in setting up the Music Task Force, the first music industry in the country.
Pawan Kumar Chamling
The longest serving Chief Minister of any state in India, Pawan Kumar Chamling has to his record five successive terms at the helm of affairs of Sikkim for almost twenty five years from 1994 to 2019. A self educated farmer-turner-policeman-turned politician, Chamling achieved quite some major breakthroughs for the Himalayan state throughout his quarter of a century long rule, most notably leading Sikkim to be India’s first and only fully organic state in 2016 working on his vision that stemmed back in 2003 and that which fetched the state the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award.
A champion of the environment and one of the very few politicians who made aggressive efforts to pursue the cause, Chamling drew from his experience as a farmer and relied on his observations to bring into effect such laws ad practises that while might have been lacking in the technical and bureaucratic essence of them, still managed to work, therefore establishing him as a leader committed to making Sikkim the best version of itself. Apart from his achievements as a politician, Pawan Kumar Chamling is also a purveyor of the arts. A prolific writer who writes under the pet name of Pawan Kumar Kiran, the former distinguished CM has been awarded twice by the Sikkim Sahitya Parishad with the Chintan Puraskar in 1987 for the best poem and the Bhanu Puraskar in 2010 as well as by the Poets Foundation in Kolkata with a lifetime achievement award for literature in 2001. In the numerous such distinctions that cater to him as a politician as well as otherwise, Pawan Kumar Chamling surely has to be one of the smartest minds to have graced the political scenario of India.
Biplab Kumar Deb
Another Chief Minster of another north east Indian state who has been capturing the attention of an entire nation of democratic rule is Tripura BJP man Biplab Kumar Deb. But more than his exploits in the world of polity and planning, and of administration and governance, it is Deb’s rather amusing but as controversial frequent utterances on all things politics, or even beyond it, that has been making him all the more (in)famous. From claims as bizarre as internet having existed since the times of the Mahabharata to a confounded belief that only civil engineers should be aiming for civil services, while stirring up more contentious issues by calling Jats and Punjabis as being ‘less brainy’ and sparing not even the Buddha himself by saying that he walked to Japan besides dwelling on his own definitions of beauty that made him snub Diana Hayden’s Miss World winning credibilities, Biplob Kumar Deb is a politician officiating indeed in his own made up world of oddities. Whether such remarks stems from some rather extreme brushes with sprezzatura or otherwise though is something we assume he would like to keep the world guessing!