While addressing the NEDA conclave, Home Minister Amit Shah referred extensively to the NRC process and its completion in Assam and mentioned about the central government's interest to see an error free NRC list.
- Subimal Bhattacharjee
Home Minister of India and President of the Bharatiya Janata Party Shri Amit Shah made his maiden visit to the north east India on 8th and 9th September 2019 when he visited Guwahati to inaugurate and attend the 68th plenary session of the North East Council (NEC) and also the 4th Annual conclave of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) comprising most of the political parties of the region. The visit was very significant as it was just after a week after the publication of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam which has a major impact on the politics and economics of the region and not only Assam. Shri Shah was fully engaged those two days in Guwahati with his deft understanding of the issues of the region and his mission to give a fillip to all the aspirations of the region. While the NEC plenary was more related to the economic development of the region, NEDA as an initiative of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the regional parties was more of a political platform to confabulate and steer the region’s agenda.
Very significantly and true to his style, Shri Amit Shah addressed all the issues at hand with all clarity and listened to the various viewpoints both on the political and development aspects. While addressing the NEDA conclave, he referred extensively to the NRC process and its completion in Assam and mentioned about the central government interest to see an error free NRC list and also extend the same to all other states and thereby eliminate the presence of illegal migrants from the Indian soil. He also emphatically mentioned that the Congress had neglected the northeast region for decades and pushed it to the verge of becoming an under developed region in the country despite the vast potential. He also claimed that the situation of northeast improved after Modi Government assumed office and referred to the Prime Minister’s special attention for the development of the region. The Home Minister also clarified that all confusion around the various provisions of Article 371 of the Constitution applicable to the north eastern states would remain intact. He mentioned that Article 371 was a permanent arrangement while Article 370 related to Jammu & Kashmir was temporary in nature and no related at all.
The Home Minister also brought about the need for having the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in place that would enable people from the 6 minority communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan facing persecution to apply for Indian citizenship after the mandatory wait period of 6 years. He touched upon the fears raised by three chief ministers of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland and also the concerns raised around the impact of CAB on Inner Line Permits, Article 371 provisions and Sixth Schedule areas provisions of the Constitution. The convenor of NEDA and Assam Health and Finance Minister Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma later confirmed that the HM had personally assured the Chief Ministers to take their concern before considering any steps for bringing in the CAB.
While much of the provisions of the CAB has been misunderstood in the region in the early part of the year when the bill was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha, the confabulations with the NADA partners over the months and the electoral results and voting pattern in the last Lok Sabha elections in Assam clearly showed that the common man was not against CAB. Hopefully the CAB can be taken up again and passed in both houses of Parliament and in turn pave the way for a permanent end to many of the political issues that keep on being raised in the region. The need to pace up the development of the region is very much dependent on peaceful political situation in the region and the central government has been striving to factor in all shades of opinions before arriving at the final strategy.
At the NEC plenary also, the Home Minister was very firm about the need to push for a wholesome development of the north eastern region ranging from infrastructure to agriculture to the service sectors. Speaking at the session, Shri Amit Shah brought in the importance of developing each and every corner of north east India for making a prosperous region that would further help in contributing for the development of the entire nation. He also announced that the NEC will earmark 30% of its funds for focused funding of priority areas and deprived sections of society in the region. He said that every state will identify those villages or regions which are backward in various indicators and will work to bring those regions at par with the rest of the country. At the session, there was emphasis on the fact that NEC as a regional planning body and a resource centre should play a major role in guiding the states towards achieving the goal of development at par with the rest of the country.
With the north eastern region having the advantage of a separate ministry in the union government related to its development, popularly known as DONER, much of the focus on NEC’s implementation is also focussed and attended to closely. Dr Jitender Singh Minister DONER is also fully engaged into all issues with a hands on approach and has ensured that central allocation of resources are spent optimally and not diverted for other avenues or into wrongful hands as had happened rampantly in the past. In this meet of NEC, Dr Singh mentioned that the NEC has been given its highest budgetary allotment of 1476 crore rupees for the year 2019-20. However a better functioning both DONER and NEC has still to be fostered and the Home Minister has already sent the right signals.
Clearly Shri Amt Shah’s visit and the engagements have set the ball rolling for more enhanced attention to the issues of north east region and knowing his professional and time and task bound implementation, it will be not too far when again he will visit the region rand ask for updates on the action items. For now the visit has sent the right message to the political and bureaucratic fraternity alike that the government was serious about taking north east to a different level of peace and prosperity. NEDA and NEC have both been energized with this visit.