Northeast Painted Saffron

The latest State election results have heralded a new era in the northeastern stretch of India; it should also benefit the nation, provided the BJP honours its election promises and covers a hitherto uncharted social territory

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Northeast

Setting an example in Tripura, the Bharatiya Janata Party has dominated the latest three Assembly elections in the Northeast. The party has stayed at the centre of the discourse about these polls even in Nagaland where a post-poll alliance can pull off a government with its participation and in Meghalaya where its tally is negligible. The ‘Manik Sarkar magic’ proved ineffective in the communist bastion for 25 years, Tripura, as its voters were unforgiving for his gross underdevelopment of infrastructure and unemployment of the people. The factional feud-ridden Naga People’s Front can witness an exodus to the BJP-engineered alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party in Nagaland. As Ahmed Patel, Kamalnath et al huddle to save the Indian National Congress government in Meghalaya, the challenger National People’s Party will probably go with the BJP due to its legacy of PA Sangma, a nationalist who had rebelled first in the INC and then in the Nationalist Congress Party. While both Bengalis and the indigenous tribes have backed the party ruling at the Centre in Tripura for providing after a long time a serious alternative, after the INC gave the Left Front walkovers election after election, the communal appeal by Christian clerics to prevent the entry of a ‘Hindu’ party in the region fell on deaf ears in the other two States. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, strategist Ram Madhav and expert of the Northeast Himanta Biswa Sarma have together worked out the formula of success for the National Democratic Alliance’s extension for the region, the North-East Democratic Alliance. Patriots are relieved by the fact that an earlier call for a boycott of the election in Nagaland did not work out. It would have tempted the exhausted separatists of the State to turn adventurous anew.

The BJP’s rule in 21 of the 30 States of the country should ensure a near-uniform, predictable economic policy for investors who operate across the regions. The Northeast, with the BJP footprint also in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, should not only see rapid industrialisation but also the creation of India’s window to the south-east Asian countries, adding thrust to the Modi government’s “Act East” push. The poverty-stricken tribal people should discover dignity of life due to new means of income and more. Although the BJP could not mould the attitude of an incorrigible People’s Democratic Alliance in all these years of the ruling alliance in Jammu & Kashmir, handling less belligerent separatists of the Northeast and bringing them to the mainstream should be easier. On the whole, people of the region should not feel racially discriminated against when they venture to other States.

There remains another distance that the largest party in the world must bridge. Irrespective of the failure of Christian communalism in the region, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh must study and address the hostility of authorities of the religion observed across the nation. For, they influence the international opinion about the BJP government, which the prime minister has assiduously worked on after his avatar as the chief minister of Gujarat received condemnation, thanks to the propaganda of a bunch of pamphleteers between 2002 and 2014. The fight against Islamic terrorism cannot succeed without a worldwide Christian-Jew-Hindu-Buddhist collaboration.

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