Northeast polls: The BJP has a full house, and the TMC is hoping to make an impression on turncoats.

12 of 17 Congress lawmakers led by former CM Mukul Sangma switched to TMC on Thursday. The TMC has sparked its name in three state assemblies in the area.

GUWAHATI (GUWAHATI): With a houseful BJP in the sparsely populated northeast, the TMC seems to be setting itself up as the next stop for Congress turncoats as elections are scheduled in six states in the region from next year to 2024, starting with Manipur in 2022.On Thursday, 12 of 17 Congress lawmakers led by former CM Mukul Sangma switched to TMC, making the party led by Mamata Banerjee the largest opposition party in the hill state.In 2023, Meghalaya, which is governed by a group of five factions, including the BJP, and led by CM Conrad Sangmas NPP, will go to the polls.Mukul said that the TMC would soon expand in the northeast shortly after joining the TMC.

Assam was TMC's first electoral victory in the region in 2001 when Jamal Uddin Ahmed, the TMC's nominee, secured the Badarpur seat in the Barak Valley.The party's second victory in Assam came in Mariani, a Congress bastion then, in a bypoll in 2004 and the third time in 2011 when it won the Hajo constituency.The TMC had won seven out of the 60 seats in Manipur in 2012, and then one in 2017.In 2009, the party had occupied five seats in the Arunachal Pradesh assembly poll.

In the NE states except Tripura and Mizoram, Congressmen and a handful of regional parties were converted to the BJP just before the elections, which began with Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam in 2015.While former Congress leaders have now become BJP CMs in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur, Nagaland deputy CM Y Patton, who is a BJP ally, has come from the Nagaland Peoples Front.Sarbananda Sonowal, a former Assam CM and now Union minister, was with Asom Gana Parishad before joining the BJP.In August last year, the TMC opened its doors to former Congress MP Sushmita Deb as one of its members in Assam, the region's first.

Except Assam and Tripura, the political leadership in the other states of the region are leader-driven, not party-driven, according to Assam BJP spokesman Rupam Goswami.Wherever the leaders find a particular political party that is suitable for them to participate, they join.Mukul Sangma joined TMC in Meghalaya because he must have found the party that would be best for him to fit in, and he knows well that he shouldn't attempt to knock at the BJP's door because it would not give him the CM's position.Goswami said that a former CM would not change parties for nothing.