The Congress in the Northeast is facing the statehood music the UPA government composed on Telangana last week. And the party is expecting the opening notes — marathon shutdowns across tribal councils in Assam beginning Monday — to be jarring.
The statehood chorus has hit Congress-ruled Meghalaya too, with the nod for Telangana having stoked the Garoland fire that the Home Ministry had almost doused during a meeting with separatist militants this September.
The Garos, one of the three major matrilineal tribes of Meghalaya, have been demanding a separate Garoland comprising the western half of the cloud-kissed state. Like the other statehood demands in the Northeast, militants hijacked the demand for Garoland, comprising three districts: the South Garo Hills, East Garo Hills and West Garo Hills.
In Assam, the newly-formed United Democratic Peoples’ Front (UDPF), backed by Congress ally Bodoland Peoples’ Front, has called for a two-day state shutdown from Monday. The Indigenous Tribal Peoples’ Front has supported the call.
“There can be no alternative to Bodoland, not after Telengana,” said UDPF general secretary Bhraman Baglary. “If the Centre can honour the demands of separatists in a mainland state, it must not ignore similar demands from the country’s fringes.”