Development, violence on voters’ mind in northeast polls

April 15th, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, April 15 (IANS) Lack of development and continuing militant violence will be on top of the voters’ mind in the northeast as 10 of its 24 constituencies in six states go to the polls Thursday.
“If the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government comes to power, the Congress would undertake several programme to solve the growing and gigantic unemployment problems of the region,” promised the Congress manifesto.

It also said “significant success has been recorded in the fight against insurgency in some northeastern states.”

The Congress is the dominant party - ruling four of the seven northeastern states of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, while the CPI-M is in power in Tripura.

In Nagaland, it is the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN), comprising the Nagaland Peoples Front, the BJP and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Meghalaya is presently under the president’s rule after the NCP led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government collapsed last month.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won nine seats in Assam, one seat each in Manipur and Meghalaya.

“Poor governance, corruption and insurgency have resulted in the resource-rich region lagging behind. The physical distance between the region and New Delhi has contributed to the widening of psychological distance,” the BJP manifesto said.

The BJP, which won two Lok Sabha seats each in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in the 2004 elections, promises steps to curb illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

Both the Congress and the BJP would contest all the 24 parliamentary seats in the northeast - either on its own or in alliance with regional parties.

“All round development and providing security to the people in the northeastern region would be the top priority if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government comes to power,” said Harendra Pratap, BJP in-charge of northeast.

The CPI-M, which won the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura in 2004, promises to declare the northeastern region a priority region for development and improving infrastructure and special employment schemes for the youth.

CPI-M spokesman Gautam Das said: “Both the NDA and UPA are not sincere to resolve the crisis of the most backward region of India. Due to the Congress’ wrong policies the problems of the region remained unfulfilled.”

There are 25.57 million voters, including 12.48 million women, to elect 24 Lok Sabha members from the northeast India. Assam alone has 17.49 million electorate. Ten northeast constituencies are going to the polls in the first of the five-phase elections Thursday.

Of the 24 parliamentary seats, 14 in Assam followed by two each in Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and one seat each in Nagaland and Mizoram.

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