Online Classes :- Current Affairs Part-3

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North-East calling: BJP read the pulse of north-east voters well but needs to deliver now

The BJP juggernaut in north Indian states and its plans for expansion elsewhere have defined political discourse over the past five years. That the north-east has warmed up to BJP shows the party is getting some things right even as it gets panned for intolerance elsewhere. BJP deserves credit for valuing the importance of small states and small social groups and stitching them together with its traditional voter base to form winning social and political alliances.
Even when critics pan BJP for majoritarian tendencies, they fail to give credit to BJP for voicing local grievances and governance failures that were long ignored. Previous dispensations had, to some extent, followed the traditional British prescription of ‘benign neglect’ of the north-east, coupled with patronage of local elites as well as laxness in restricting socially disruptive refugee and migrant inflows into the region. BJP, on the other hand, skipped old talk of preserving cultures as walled gardens and spoke loudly to aspirations of well-paying jobs and better connectivity.
BJP read the popular mood well, setting aside Hindutva goals of cultural integration of minorities to aim for an economic integration. The economy of north-east states has survived on doles from Delhi but with rising education levels and emigration their voters, like young voters everywhere, increasingly want politicians to replicate the growth poles of modernising and urbanising India that attract large volumes of private investment. It is no longer about preserving rural idylls but about pursuing urban and metropolitan dreams. Congress passing up Tripura and Nagaland could be as much due to a bankruptcy of ideas to sate these young aspirations as to a paucity of resources to woo the entrenched elites.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has exemplified this BJP foray into the north-east adorning traditional headgears and costumes with relish and addressing more election rallies than any Congress leader, past or present. Congress president Rahul Gandhi will have to match Modi and the entire BJP leadership in this enthusiasm for reaching out to north-east voters. This is the new normal. The politics done and dusted, the Centre must turn its attention to promoting north-east as a promising investment and tourism destination. If the region recedes to the margins again despite this newfound political consciousness and developmental consensus, BJP and its allies too will face searching questions from the electorate.

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