Friday, April 8, 2011

NE Indian Politicos To Launch United Regional Front

The regional political parties in Northeast (NE) Indian states have decided to launch a common platform under the banner of North East Democratic Front ( NEDF) after the Assam general election.    Interacting with media persons on April 2 , Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said all the regional political parties in the Northeast will come together to supplement each other and raise a common voice for the regional development.    Earlier, the political parties of the region at a joint meeting in Delhi on February 20 decided to come together in order to raise a common voice while expressing that ‘unless we raise our voice together our voice is not heard’. Meanwhile, spreading its wings to the Naga-inhabited areas of other NE states, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) has announced the formation of its units in the states of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.         High voltage campaign    The high-voltage campaign for 62 Assembly constituencies in Assam was marked by the presence of Indian political leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing two rallies. In the high pitched campaign on the last day before April 4 elections, despite a bandh called by the Paresh Barua- led anti-talk faction of ULFA to protest the Prime Minister’s visit, bad weather in some areas and the World Cup cricket final, candidates made hectic last minute efforts to woo the voters in the constituencies spread over 13 districts.    The BJP, in particular, has put in an aggressive campaign with the help of most senior national leaders including former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, party president Nitin Gadkari, Leaders of Opposition in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, former party President M Venkaiah Naidu, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda.    The AGP’s campaign was muted with Party President Chandramohan Patowary and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta pitching in for candidates in the party strongholds.    The BJP brought in glamorous Bollywood stars such as Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha and television star Smriti Irani to campaign in different constituencies while the Congress had only Raj Babbar to match and canvass for the party.    The banned ULFA, which has been calling for a boycott of all polls for the last three decades, has not done so this time with a section led by Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa coming for talks but Paresh Barua anti-talk faction has threatened Congress workers.    Congress and BPF (Bodoland Progressive Front) are the ruling party in Assam for the last 10 years and many people opine that this time they will face anti- incumbency factor. But as major opposition parties like AGP (Asom Gana Parishad), BJP (Bhratiya Janata Party), AIUDF etc. are not in alliance, many feel that Congress- BPF combine has an advantage.    Meanwhile, with an increase in voter percentage in the first phase of polls, the Asom Gana Parishad ( AGP) claimed it would bag the maximum number of seats in this assembly polls. The AGP said it was confident of winning at least 30 seats out of the 62 seats from the first phase of polls.    According to party members, the Congress was upset with the first phase of polls and the regional party was confident of getting the maximum number of seats in upper Assam. The regional camp tagged the Congress government as the most corrupt in the country and said lower and middle Assam were forts of the AGP. “Today, a great Gandhian like Anna Hazare has expressed his anger against the UPA government because of rampant corruption which has pushed the country into darkness. In Assam, too, people have not yet received any clear picture of the NC Hills scam,” said AGP spokesperson Bijon Mahajan.         Bangladesh factor    In the Assam election campaign, regional political parties did not make insurgency a major issue. However, Bangladeshi issue surfaced as an important factor especially to BJP, a communalist party. During the campaign, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi alleged that illegal infiltration by Bangladeshis had created “havoc” in Assam and neither the Congress nor Asom Gana Parishad governments had made any effort to stop the influx.    “Gujarat has borders with Pakistan while Assam has with Bangladesh. In my state Pakistanis have not been able to create any problem, but in Assam Bangladeshis have created havoc,” he said.    “BJP will never allow Assam to become a Bangladesh-controlled state. The party is committed to resolving the issue of Bangladeshi migrants and the problem can be solved only if the party comes to power,” Modi said addressing two BJP campaign rallies at Naoboicha in Lakhimpur district and in neighbouring Dhemaji.    Pointing that BJP has always been accused of being a communal party, he said, “Yes, I admit we are communal but only on the issue of illegal Bangladeshis and not on any other case.”    However, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said her party will not compromise on the security and integrity of Assam and the country and dismissed charges of encouraging influx in the state. “ Congress has often been accused of encouraging influx from Bangladesh but this is not the truth,” she said.    “It (Congress) has never compromised on the security of Assam and the country and will not ever do so in the future,” she told a campaign rally at Neelam Bazaar in Karimganj district bordering Bangladesh. It was the Congress government in Assam that had taken up updating of the National Register of Citizens with March 21 , 1971 as the cut-off date, she said.         Indo-Bangla border dispute    India and Bangladesh are holding negotiations to resume the stalled joint survey of disputed border areas between the two nations. A mutual Indo-Bangladesh agreement last year decided to jointly survey the disputed areas along the Indo-Bangla border as part of a confidence building measure. The areas of differences are often referred as “adversely possessed” areas and inherited from the days of partition of the two countries.    The survey began on December 7 last year, but sixteen days later, it abruptly came to a halt in the Meghalaya sector amidst claims and counter-claims that border guards of the two nations were interfering in the survey works. In fact, it was Bangladesh’s Directorate of Land Record and Survey which insisted on resuming the stalled process. Two teams from both the countries held talks last week at Muktapur and Pyrdiwah along the international border in East Khasi Hills district to chalk out modalities to resume the survey.    The major point of difference is in nine areas in the Meghalaya sector which is “adversely held by India” and claimed by Bangladesh. The nine areas include, Pyrdiwah, Lyngkhat, Amki-Amjalong, Ranghong, Naljiri, Tamabil, Kurinala and Muktapur mostly in East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya and Sylhet district in Bangladesh. India claims Lobacheera being “adversely held by Bangladesh.”    Incidentally, the survey of Lobacheera, a tea growing area, has been completed last year, although details are yet to be exchanged between the two nations.         Fencing affect Indians    Meanwhile, thousands of displaced people on Wednesday blocked the Assam-Agartala National Highway (NH-44) at Reshambagan area demanding proper rehabilitation for the families affected owing to erection of barbed wire fencing along the Indo-Bangla border. Displaced villagers under the banner of Tripura Shimanta Bhoomi Suraksha Committee (TSBSC) gathered there and chanted slogans against the Left Front government and then stalled the vehicular movement on the NH-44 for around 4 hours amid tight security.