Arunachal: BJP on decline

PTI | By, Naharlagun (itanagar)
May 03, 2004 01:37 PM IST

On the eve of its biggest electoral test since the 'bloodless coup', the BJP is staring at a solar eclipse in India's land of the rising sun.

When the BJP had its first government in the Northeast in August last year, party workers in the region would invariably quip: "The sun in India rises with a saffron hue in the east (Arunachal Pradesh) and sets saffronized in the west (Gujarat)".

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Nine months later, on the eve of its biggest electoral test since the 'bloodless coup', the party is staring at a solar eclipse in India's land of the rising sun. And the cause of the BJP's discomfort is the ambiguity of the party leadership's stand on some 60,000 refugees from Bangladesh settled in Arunachal Pradesh since 1964.

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The refugees — Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs —have been a thorn in the flesh of the indigenous Arunachal tribes for a few decades. The latter see the refugees as a demographic and socio-economic threat, and the apprehension has magnified with the inclusion of Chakma and Hajong voters in the State's electoral rolls for the first time.

Though 6.84 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the two Lok Sabha seats, Arunachal East and Arunachal West, the focus in this frontier state is on 1,497 Chakma and Hajong voters scattered across four districts.

Organisations like the potent All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) that have been spearheading a movement to oust the "resources draining refugees", have identified the BJP-led NDA government as the 'enemy of the State' for pampering the Chakmas. The Congress and other parties have cashed in on this.

More than chief minister Gegong Apang, the target of anger in the State is Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani who was a hero in November last year for granting Rs 250 crore to Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chakmas and Hajongs do not count as a vote bank, but empowering them with the right to vote has stirred a hornet's nest.

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    Rahul Karmakar was part of Hindustan Times’ nationwide network of correspondents that brings news, analysis and information to its readers. He no longer works with the Hindustan Times.

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