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Ahead of Narendra Modi's Delhi rally, BJP CMs Sarbananda Sonowal, Pema Khandu ask northeasterners to flock to venue

New Delhi: Even as the national capital readies itself up for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally to be held on 8 May, the state committee of the BJP aims at mobilising northeastern folks living in Delhi for the party’s campaign.

“People from North East India constitute a population of more than 5 lakh in the national capital and more than 2.5 lakh among them have their votes in Delhi. We have been reaching out to them over the last few months with the BJP’s achievements in their home states and inspiring them to campaign for the party,” said Manas Deka, coordinator in the North East cell of the saffron party’s Delhi state office.

 Ahead of Narendra Modis Delhi rally, BJP CMs Sarbananda Sonowal, Pema Khandu ask northeasterners to flock to venue

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal at an interaction meeting with the people of the North East in Delhi on Monday. Image courtesy @BJP4India

Significantly, migrant workers, students and professionals constitute a major chunk of northeastern population in Delhi. A vast majority of this populace lives in a well-knit society in the national capital.

“In the Delhi University student body elections, we see that northeastern students constituted up to 15 percent of the electorates. They often vote in blocks for a candidate and ensure his or her victory. I hope that the same would happen in Lok Sabha polls in Delhi too,” while addressing a house packed of party workers from North East India in Delhi BJP office, Kiren Rijiju Minister of State Home Affairs said on Monday.

Rijiju, who is a Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, is also a Delhi University alumnus.

The northeasterners eager to campaign for the party would be handed out booklets about the party’s achievements across India and would be asked to convince people to vote for it in Delhi informed a party worker.

The saffron party is not only reaching out to the northeasterners who are registered as voters in the national capital but also the ones who are not registered voters in Delhi.

“The basic idea is to inspire the northeasterners with votes in Delhi to vote for the BJP. We hope that the northeasterners who do not have votes in Delhi would campaign for the party reach out to the people in Delhi and convey the BJP’s achievement in creating an inclusive India,” said Ram Lal National General Secretary of the BJP.

Interestingly, the Congress and the AAP narrative in the national capital city questions the BJP’s credentials as an inclusive party. The saffron party seems to make an attempt to counter this narrative by incorporating the northeasterners in it’s Delhi campaign.

The North East had the image of being the most neglected region in India. But the BJP in the last five years has made issues in the region an integral part of the party's national narrative to appear inclusive.

Leaders in Delhi BJP hope that at least 50,000 people, who have their origins in the North East, will crowd in Modi’s rally to be held in Ram Leela ground at 5 pm on 8 May. Vehicles are arranged across Delhi to commute them to Ram Leela ground on that day.

In recent times the BJP has attained unprecedented success in winning the elections in the northeastern region. In 2016, the party vowed to make the eight states of the region free from Congress rule and made it a reality within two and half years flat by installing either a BJP government or that of the allies in each of the eight states.

“The relationship between the northeasterners and that of the BJP has turned cosier. We are trying to exploit this relationship in the capital city in this election,” said a source in the BJP.

Anyone who has observed northeastern politics knows that the region has a history of issue and agenda based politics. The BJP has aligned itself with most of the issues and agendas despite the ideological underpinnings.

BJP seems to be attempting to connect to the northeasterners living in Delhi who are deeply rooted in their culture and politics.

One of the major issues faced by the people of the North East was its physical and psychological distance from the Centre. This was identified as one of the major causes of the rise of militancy in the region.

The distance was done away with by the BJP ruled Centre by drastically increasing the frequency of visits made by Union Ministers to the region. Soon after BJP came to power at the Centre the prime minister passed an order to the cabinet colleagues to visit the region at least once in every fortnight.

The saffron party in the last few days has organised a series of meets with the people of the North East in its Delhi state office. In a meeting organised on Monday, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal met the party workers in Delhi.

While speaking to them Khandu said, “In the last four years, Union ministers visited Arunachal Pradesh 130 times. Prior to the Modi regime, Arunachal Pradesh hardly received around 50 VIPs since the state was formed in the year 1987.”

He also said that the Union ministers not only visited the place but also met people and the local ministers to pace up projects and solve issues.

Speaking to the party workers Rijiju said, “The frequent visit of Union ministers helped erosion of the sense of alienation among the people and thus drop in militancy.”

Apart from the issues in the northeastern region, the BJP also has an agenda to see the region as the hub of India’s trade with South East Asia. The BJP finds this dream handy to sell among northeasterners in Delhi.

“During the Modi regime, the Guwahati airport became the fifth busiest airport in India. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets a second chance North East will certainly be turned into a hub of international trade,” said Sonowal.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 15:52:45 IST