The year 2017 certainly will have special significances for India’s much neglected North-East. Decades of futile and corruption based Indian National Congress misrules in most of the states have made them economically backward with very little infrastructural developments as well as employment opportunities for the local people. Recently, the United States have made assessments suggesting huge economic potential for the region. More importantly, one could see big changes in the political equations of the region; in that decades of Congress rules are being replaced by NDA/BJP rule in the region. Although the approaches of the NDA government have not been above criticism for bending rues of democracy; none the less, none can avoid seeing strong footprints of the lotus blooming across the North-Eastern states. With two big states of the region, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in their kitty and with visible strong political alliances with local parties in Nagaland and Meghalaya; NDA/BJP is making their presence felt across the North-East by slowly replacing Congress and other local parties.
The North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) between BJP and local political parties like Naga People’s Front (NPF), Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) have further strengthened the base of BJP/NDA in several states like Sikkim where they have little or no importance. Tripura under the Left Front rule; Manipur and Mizoram under the Congress are the only three states left in the region outside the BJP/NDA dominant influence. However, Trinamul Congress (TMC) has successfully replaced Congress as the main opposition in Tripura; leaving Manipur and Mizoram as the only Congress domino states in the region.
The current situations in Manipur is extremely fragile and the division of districts by Chief Minister Ibobi Singh have been done keeping the Assembly elections in mind; knowing fully well that it would result in mass uprising among the Naga communities of the state, but to keep his Meiteis vote bank intact by dangerously rekindling ethnic and socio-political sentiments. Otherwise he has very little chance in getting back to the coveted CM seat. However, the situation has gone beyond his ability to handle any further and without direct Central Government intervention there is no possibility of any quick resolution.
Hence, the North-East India is now under strong control and coordination of the BJP/NDA political alliance. If they are successful in continuing their pro-developmental schemes as in other parts of India; this is a welcome political change. However, keeping in mind the volatile political situations in most states of the region (except Sikkim), ethnic rivalries, corrupt local politicians constantly changing allegiance for personal gains and benefits, high levels of corruption, lack of proper governance, insurgency, poor infrastructure and low economic growth are some of the perennial challenges plaguing the fast economic development of the region. If NDA/BJP could at least credibly handle 40-50% of the serious socio-economic and socio-political problems of the region, they will be able to establish themselves in the region successfully. It is better for the region to see at least some success than zero success of the past governments. Only the coming days will be able to demonstrate how the region changes socio-politically; but that there is change in the air is almost certain. Hope something better results for the picturesque and ethnically diverse; but severely isolated and neglected Indian North-East bringing peace and economic prosperity in the region.
Saikat Kumar Basu
Lethbridge AB Canada