Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will attend the swearing-in ceremonies of the chief ministers and their ministers in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura early this week.
The duo, accompanied by the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, will fly to Nagaland to attend the swearing in ceremony of the NDPP-BJP government led by Neiphiu Rio in Kohima Tuesday (7 March).
From there, they will fly to Shillong for the swearing in of Conrad Sangma and his team at the Raj Bhavan there.
PM Modi and Shah will then address a special meeting of Assam’s council of ministers Tuesday evening (7 March) and attend a few programmes in Assam’s capital. The next morning, they will fly to Agartala to attend the swearing in of the BJP-IPFT council of ministers there.
Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will create history of sorts with this trip.
Never before has any Prime Minister of the country attended back-to-back swearing-in ceremonies of chief ministers of three states of the region. No Prime Minister before Modi, has accorded such a lot of importance to the region.
“The presence of the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister at three successive swearing-in ceremonies in three states of the region is historical and completely unprecedented. No Prime Minister or Union Home Minister has ever done this in the past. And it shows the deep commitment of Modiji and Amit Shahji towards the region and its development,” Assam Chief Minister Sarma told Swarajya.
Neiphiu Rio, who will be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Nagaland for the fifth time, told Swarajya that the visit of Modi and Shah to the three states “reveals the enormous love and respect for the people of the region by not only the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, but also by the BJP”.
Amit Shah was present at the swearing-in ceremony of Rio in March 2018. The presence of the Prime Minister this time, said Rio, is a great honour to Nagas and Nagaland. Shah was the BJP president at that time.
“This is not just any other visit by the Prime Minister and Home Minister. By marking their presence at such a happy and important occasion, the two have sent out a strong and clear message that the Northeast occupies a special place in their hearts and this region is an integral and inalienable part of the country,” said Nagaland BJP chief Temjen Imna Along.
Meghalaya chief minister-designate Conrad Sangma told Swarajya that the Prime Minister readily accepted the invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony to be held at the Raj Bhavan Tuesday (7 March) afternoon.
“People of Meghalaya will be greatly honoured with this and we will always remember this day very fondly,” Sangma added.
At Conrad Sangma’s swearing-in ceremony on 6 March 2018, the then union home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah were present.
“This is not a sudden, newfound love for the Northeast by the top BJP leadership. It was Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who accorded special attention to the region and put it on the track to development. The Modi government doubled down on the development of the Ashta Lakshmis (eight Lakshmis, referring to the eight states of the Northeast) and gave real meaning to the ‘Act East’ policy,” said the Assam Chief Minister.
“Compare this with the dismissive and insulting statement by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge who very contemptuously said that ‘small elections in small states’ do not hold any significance for the party. That shows how the Congress has treated the Northeast and why it was neglected for decades when the Congress was in power at the centre,” he said.
The Northeast can now look forward to greater development and progress, said Tripura’s chief minister-designate Manik Saha.
“No Prime Minister before Modiji had deemed it fit to attend swearing-in ceremonies in Tripura. Modiji was in Agartala at the swearing-in ceremony of my predecessor (Biplab Deb) in March 2018 and his presence this time shows his continuing commitment to the state,” said Saha.
It may also be mentioned here that while Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah campaigned energetically in the three states, Kharge and the top leadership of the Congress kept themselves away.
Rahul Gandhi put in a perfunctory appearance at the fag end of the campaigning in Meghalaya.
And in stark contrast to many social media messages posted by Modi, Shah and the BJP leaders on the elections in the three states, the Congress leadership, including Rahul Gandhi, did not bother to do so.
In fact, Rahul Gandhi flatly refused to post a ‘best of luck’ message for Congress candidates in Meghalaya and Nagaland on the eve of polling in the two states on 27 February from his social media handles.
Congress leaders, it is learnt, had requested Gandhi to post such a message, but the Wayanad MP excused himself by telling them that he was busy preparing for his address at Cambridge University!
Meghalaya BJP chief Ernest Mawrie said that successive Congress regimes at the federal level have only paid lip service to the development of the Northeast.
“Prime Minister Modi has come to this region once every month on an average and most union ministers have visited the Northeast to oversee projects and schemes by their respective departments multiple times. This had never happened before and the result is the fast-paced development that the region is witnessing now,” he said.
Political analyst Gautam Borora, who used to teach political science at Assam’s Dibrugarh University, told Swarajya that the BJP has changed the narrative in and about the region.
“In the past, the Northeast was kept underdeveloped and backward and little hope was offered to the people of the region who accepted poverty and backwardness as their fate. But since 2014, new hope has been injected and that has been matched with unprecedented development,” he said.
“To the present Union Government, Northeast is not only as important as any other part of the country, but even more so since it had been neglected for so many decades.
“The Prime Minister or Union Ministers back their talk of developing the region and making it the gateway to Southeast Asia with solid work on the ground. The presence of Modi and Amit Shah at the swearing-in ceremonies in Kohima, Shillong and Agartala are just a manifestation of their commitment to the region,” Borbora added.
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