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BJP reaches out to Northeast with vision documents

 With an eye on 272-plus seats in the coming Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party is reaching out to the North East, where its presence is limited.

The party has, for the first time, drafted a separate vision document for each of the Northeastern States.

The document on Manipur, while talking of the staples of development such as schools, healthcare, roads and housing, said the party would not sidestep sensitive and contentious issues like the strong demand for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and cross-border infiltration. It promised to address concerns over continuance of AFSPA through “proper dialogue and keeping in mind the national security”

Construction of arterial roads will be a priority in the State. Citing the 100-day blockade of 2011, which brought life to a grinding halt in the State, the party said people’s immediate needs would be addressed.

The party has assured decentralisation of administration, special action groups for peace keeping, effective border security management strategy to monitor trafficking of arms and narcotics across the international border.

The 50-page ‘Meghalaya – vision 2025’ talks of 25 focus areas including skill development and management and development of border areas. For Nagaland, the party has identified 34 areas that need attention, including development of townships, roadways and mining.

“Preparations for these vision documents started four to five months ago, there were meetings with a cross-section of people, experts from various fields were consulted and feedback was taken. These documents are what the man on the street wants,” said Sunil Deodhar, convener of the BJP North East India Sampark Cell.

The party said the Northeastern region always had a friend in the BJP, which was instrumental in creating the Ministries of Tribal Affairs and of Development of North East Region. “It was the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government that gave the region the DONER Ministry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been in the present position for 10 years and represents Assam, but has he given even one industry to the region?” said Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad.

He questioned the Congress-led UPA government’s dithering on the issue of infiltration from across the borders, “Will the government answer who has created the biggest hurdle in the implementation of the Assam Accord that the Rajiv Gandhi government signed that said foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote and those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported?”

The party is ready for strategic tie-ups with local parties, extending an olive branch to tribal groups.

BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi has taken the lead by addressing rallies in Assam, Imphal, Agartala and Itanagar and the party is hopeful of securing at least four of the 11 seats from these seven States.