Wednesday, February 11, 2015

AK-67 ‘revolutions’ in northeast

The Aam Admi Party (AAP)  -- Common People's Party - victory in Delhi actually demonstrates the victory of the ‘civil society’ in taking up roles of governance. Historically, this is not new for northeast. Assam had witnessed the emergence of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the landslide victory in 1986. Youth organizations in other northeastern states like Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram are not only influential, they also command tremendous respect. Young Mizo Association is one such body.
 So while the Congress and other regional party politicians are busy these days lampooning at Narendra Modi, the established political class in Assam, Nagaland or Mizoram should be careful of a possible scenario if leaders and volunteers from such youth organizations float their own parties. So far the trend used to be joining the parties like Congress, NPF (or its earlier version NPC in Nagaland), the likes of Tarun Gogoi and even Prafulla Mahanta should be careful of ‘local Arvind Kejriwals’ in their own states. In Assam, the AAP has already announced of going alone in 2016 assembly polls. Local AAP leader in Assam Manorom Gogoi has said that that it will develop Assam­ specific model for building the organisation and for providing realistic solutions to the burning problems like floods, illegal immigration, unemployment and insurgency.  A mini-revolution has actually begun. 

Historically, civil society has been an active tool in northeast. So we could possibly have many Kejriwals in northeast. Delhi election was certainly a milestone event.

The havoc wrought by it has broken the myth that Narendra Modi in invincible. It should serve a wake-up call not only to the Modi-Amit Shah duo but to the entire political class including Arvind Kejriwal himself.
The ‘AK-67’ ( as the tag stuck him for unprecedented 67 seats win out of 70 in Delhi) has done the right thing to say that the mandate is “scary”.
One possible explanation of the mandate in country’s capital like the rest of India is actually on the social transformation that has come to stay following globalisation. It has a typical angle for north east India which has remained economically underdeveloped for a plethora of reasons ranging from New Delhi’s neglect to the absence of work culture of the locals.

Analysts including from north east and Christian leaders and intellectuals have their argument to link the Delhi mandate to the Modi regime’s “eloquent silence” on attack on churches and Prime Minister’s autocratic style of functioning. But they would miss the point that the ‘angry Delhiites’ verdict’ is actually linked to the neo-liberal economic and political forces those have set in.

The disparity between rich and poor is frightening and to top that there is a huge force of middle class who are in hurry to beat the neighbourhood young man and woman around. Along with these, the massive public frustration is only growing against price hikes, corruption and cronyism and communalism.
There is certainly another angle to the February ‘revolutionary polls’ in Delhi and this is linked to Prime Minister’s taunt at Arvind Kejriwal calling him a “Naxal”. Of course for his part, Kejriwal had called himself an anarchist last year. But a shrewd politician Modi missed the point that the AAP chief has tendered apology uncountable times in the run up to the polls.

From northeasterners settled, working or studying in Delhi, the February 7 election became all the more important after BJP had goofed up on their Vision Document by tagging northeast people as “immigrants”.
Of course, the saffron party quickly sought to clarify and apologized by describing it as an ‘error’, the damage was undoubtedly full blown.
“My friends ask me why I am still working for BJP as they have called us 'immigrants',” rued one Naga voter in South Delhi.

Incidentally, the tiny population of northeasterners in Delhi has been well focused upon by the BJP with cadres ear-marked around 20 constituencies. For BJP, party strategists say, it was not only a modest crowd of 10,000 across the city but a manner of reaching out to the northeast region as a whole – which had responded enthusiastically to Modi in states like Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. 

Now that the verdict is out with Modi handed over a shocking defeat and reports suggest northeast Delhiites overwhelmingly voting for Aam Admi Party, the take aways are crucial though highly complex.

India, Delhi and northeast people are increasingly moving towards a post-ideology era in politics. Kindly note, Delhi northeast voters understandably did not cast their dice in favour of Congress even as Congress has had a long history of association with the northeast and many northeast youngsters in Delhi would have parents and uncles still in Congress party. The political divide as such and ideological moorings are now a thing of past. 

Even while moving closer to the BJP, the northeast people including those who went on moving around with saffron caps had hardly to do with the Hindutva politics of BJP. The urge was more economical and to an extent the ‘euphemism called greed’ to be closer to the power. 
North east youths in Delhi or back home have been always a key part of aspirational India. They are more interested in being economic prosperity and career-centric. Certainly the rise of the middle class is a big factor in this and also that agricultural field is not the first choice of youngsters in the region. (ends)

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