Massive protests have erupted across the Northeast on Wednesday against the BJP vision document for the Delhi elections calling the people of the region as “immigrants”, with various organizations and groups burning effigies of prime minister Narendra Modi and demanding an unconditional apology from the saffron party.
In Guwahati, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) staged a dharna in front of the Kamrup deputy commissioner’s courts, while the NSUI staged a protest outside the state BJP office here. Across Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) burnt effigies of prime minister Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Kiran Bedi, the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the Delhi elections.
The BJP’s vision document for the Delhi assembly elections, released on Tuesday, had referred to the people of the Northeastern region as “immigrants” and promising them adequate protection in the national capital. A statement issued by Sarbananda Sonowal, union minister of state for sports, tendering an apology and terming the word as a “typing error” today however has failed assuade the protests.
In Shillong, North-East Students’ Organisation (NESO) president Samuel Jyrwa and general secretary Sinam Prakash Singh termed it as an insult to the people of the region. “This act of terming the Northeast people as ‘immigrants’ or in other words ‘foreigners’ only reflects the attitude and mindset that they have towards the people from the region,” Jyrwa and Singh said.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) had yesterday said it was an “unpardonable act” which the people of the region will never forget. “Any kind of apology even by the prime minister now cannot remove the injury inflicted in the minds of the people of the region,” said AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the BJP’s vision document only once again exposed the party’s attitude and mindset towards the Northeast. “The BJP is not aware of anything. Last week the PMO’s office wanted to know who Sankaradeva was,” Gogoi said referring to an invite the PM had received for attending the annual conference of Sankar Sangha.
In Itanagar, Arunachal Civil Society (ACS), while condemning the BJP for calling the people of Northeast “immigrants” said it also raised questions about the credibility of the ruling party and its sincerity towards the region. “How can the BJP now say it was a typing error? How could a major political party make such a gross mistake?” asked ACS chairman Patey Tayum.