- Expressing his thoughts on the removal of AFSPA, Kiren Rijiju has confirmed that Northeast is integrated into ‘Mainstream India’
- The assertion came on the back of BJP’s incessant focus on connecting Northeast to the rest of India
- However, one should refrain from going complacent as the meaning of word ‘Development’ keeps evolving
Unfortunately, for a major chunk of India’s existence as an independent nation, most Indians did not consider the Northeast region of our country part of ‘Mainstream India’. Perennial insurgency, poor transport network and Congress’ apathy towards it were the main reasons behind it. But, the Modi government has reversed the dynamics.
Kiren Rijiju’s emphatic opinions on Northeast
Kiren Rijiju, India’s law Minister and probably the most coveted face of northeast has expressed satisfaction over development in the region. Rijiju was speaking to media about the removal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from major parts of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.
“I am addressing you with a sense of pride and satisfaction. For the first time, it feels that the Northeast has become the mainstream. We always used to hear that the Northeast has to be connected to the mainstream. Today, I can say it is already in the mainstream in the country.”, said Rijiju
AFSPA was removed because peace was achieved
Rijiju also apprised that the region otherwise mired by violence is now largely peaceful. Emphasizing that it is because of the improved law and order scenario that AFSPA has been removed, Rijiju said, “The recent decision to withdraw AFSPA from major areas of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur is revolutionary. When AFSPA is withdrawn, it means that peace has returned to that area.”
Kiren Rijiju appreciated the current dispensation for taking decisive action about strategic significance of the Northeast. He said that the Modi government has turned the tokenized ‘Look East’ policy into ‘Act East’.
Recently, the Union government withdrew AFSPA from a large portion of the region. The decision came after the government was able to bring various insurgent groups to the negotiation table. The reduction in the disturbed zone is a clear indication of peaceful resolution of all the concerns of the rebel forces. The continuous effort by the government to bring rebels to the table to talk has paid the price. The protection of the culture and unique identity of the tribal group has been given Constitutional as well statutory recognition.
BJP’s connectivity drive
Behind all the applause about AFSPA removal, lies years of groundwork by BJP government to facilitate development in the northeast region. In Tripura, the Modi government launched a Rajdhani Express and the Tripura Sundari Express between Agartala and Delhi. A deal with Bangladesh was also signed to develop a rail link between Tripura and Chittagong, which would speed up the flow of products, especially grains, to the region.
In 2016, the then Railway Minister Mr Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation stone for the 88-km Dhansiri-Kohima railway track worth Rs 2315 crore. This line would connect Kohima with the rest of the country. More than 15 railway projects of 1,385 km length and worth ₹ 47,000 crores were also started to connect Imphal, Aizawl and Shillong. The BJP government has introduced more than two dozen new trains in the region.
Developmental projects to promote tourism
Recently, the Prime Minister inaugurated and laid the foundation of 22 developmental projects worth more than Rs 4,800 crore in Imphal. He also inaugurated the New Integrated Terminal Building at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala apart from launching two development initiatives.
PM Modi is devoting several thousand crores of rupees towards building key roads, bridges and other infrastructure in the Northeast.
The plan is to build robust transportation infrastructure in the Northeast and to connect the region with the rest of the country in a seamless manner. This is in line with boosting the tourism economy of the region and ensuring that the Northeast is no longer treated as an isolated region.
Not a time to be content
BJP looks all set to add more to its grandeur of developmental projects. The party has just returned to power in Manipur. Moreover, for the first time in history, Congress has got zero representation in Rajya Sabha from the region. BJP has got 13 Rajya Sabha seats out of 14 in the region, while one seat is currently lying with the independent.
BJP has been able to assimilate Northeast at both Geographical and cultural levels. The violence is quelled, people are living with peace and prosperity and China is angry with all this. It is not the time to sit idle and keep pouncing on the gains made in recent years.