With the election in Delhi seemingly headed for a photo finish, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday tried to placate the people from the North East, who went on protests against the BJP vision document where they have been referred to as “immigrants”.
The PM, who was addressing an election rally in Ambedkar Nagar on Wednesday, promised that the North Eastern region would witness more development than it had seen in the last six decades.
Accusing the AAP and the Congress of attempting to incite the people from the North East, Modi said, “I can see that attempts are being made to incite our brothers and sisters from the North East. The party (BJP) has said the word (immigrant) was wrong. The party has accepted its mistake. There should not be an attempt to harm the unity of this country.”
The PM’s remarks came on the heels of the party issuing a correction in its vision document, released on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the BJP came out with a rephrased version and asserted that the party stood firmly behind those from the region and would ensure their protection and security.
Speaking at length on the issue, Modi said his party and BJP-led governments had always been particular about the welfare of people from the North East. “Have faith in me. But for your political gains, do not play with country’s unity,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also explained to the media that the BJP regretted the “inadvertent mistake”. Reading out the rephrased chapter on ‘People from the North East to be protected’, he said, “It now says “Special cells in police stations and special helplines to be set up for protection of the North East people living in Delhi. To safeguard the students of NE origin, special guardianship will be arranged with local families for them.”
Other parties were quick to hit out. Congress leader Ajay Maken demanded an apology from the ruling party, while others alleged that the party was “anti-North East”.
Despite the apologies, massive protests erupted across the region on Wednesday. Various organisations and groups burned effigies of senior BJP leaders and demanded an unconditional apology from the saffron party.
In Guwahati, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee staged a dharna outside the Kamrup deputy commissioner’s courts, while the National Students Union of India staged a protest outside the state BJP office. In Shillong, North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) president Samuel Jyrwa and general secretary Sinam Prakash Singh termed the incident an insult to the people of the region.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the vision document had exposed the party’s attitude towards the North East. “The BJP is not aware of anything. Last week the PM’s office wanted to know who Sankaradeva was,” Gogoi said referring to an invite the PM had received for the annual conference of Sankar Sangha.
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