Nido Taniam's death a national shame says Modi

In an attempt to woo the region before the upcoming general elections, Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the northeast is the most important part of India and must get the utmost attention.

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

Modi also spoke about the death of Arunachal Pradesh student, Nido Taniam, who died after an altercation with shopkeepers in New Delhi and called it a "national shame".

Modi is scheduled to address public rallies in Guwahati later on Saturday.

The eight-state northeast 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 being "too Hindi belt" are the major factors behind its dismal presence in the

Modi's elevation as his party's prime ministerial nominee has coincided with a slide in the BJP's fortunes in the northeast, 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 northeast.

The BJP did defy the odds a decade ago. And it was primarily because of the image of Vajpayee, who did what was thought to be impossible — give his "Hindu party" a foothold in the assembly of militancy-mauled Christian-majority Nagaland.

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