The BJP was shouting its lungs out over the continuing problem in the northeast a couple of days ago. Illegal immigration, the party believed, is the only cause of the problem and it was not an ethnic issue.
The Congress has been accused of manipulating the sensitive region and the circumstances to make political gains. Well enough. But the latest mass exodus of the northeasterners from Bangalore in Karnataka, a state ruled by the BJP, raises one question: What is the saffron party speaking on the turmoil in the northeast when its own government can not ensure peace of mind to thousands of citizens from that part of the country staying in Bangalore?
The peaceful city has not witnessed a single instance of flare-up but yet the BJP administration could not assure the panicking people from the northeast to flee in dozens. Imagine, what would have happened if indeed a violent situation had taken effect. And Karnataka neither has any border with Bangladesh to make it 'worse' for a BJP government.
The BJP can take a primary lesson from the latest exodus in Karnataka and prepare itself for the northeast in the future, if ever it comes to power at the Centre again.
The BJP has failed to convince frightened souls
First and foremost, the administration must learn how a systematic propaganda of threat frightens the northeastern people, even when they are located in a place which is not known for any ethnic violence. Mass exodus from Bangalore, one of the best cosmopolitan cities in the country, and not from Delhi or Mumbai after the recent violence indeed proves that things are seriously wrong somewhere.
The northeastern people are an afraid lot at this moment owing to the continuing clashes and violence in that part of the country. After the recent Mumbai violence, the popular belief went that the 'Muslim community would retaliate' against the northeasterners. The fear psychosis has not been limited to any particular section of the northeastern in Bangalore either.
This has been the biggest failure of the state government, i.e., to initiate a mechanism to counter the systematic spread of terror threat. In this way, it has clearly alienated the afraid lot. The role of the police is also not above suspicion. The memory of the death of college student Richard Loitam still haunts his fellow northeasterners in Karnataka, it was proved. The stabbing of a Tibetan student in Mysore has added more to the fear psychosis.
The second question: Do minorities always fear spending days under a saffron regime? The story in Karnataka suggests something on such lines. Religious minorities have been targetted in a project of radical politics and we have seen how right-wing activists have attacked common people even for exercising individual freedom.
The inaction of the ruling party to stem this tendency has proved a blow for the minorities and now, the northeasterners believe they could be the next target of atrocity. The problem has been further aggravated by right-wing elements who are finding an opportunity amid the chaos to play their old game.
The BJP's inner trouble in the state has also reduced its credibility to a sham. The party dissenters have turned the government into a farce and now with the third chief minister taking charge in four years, few can rely on the troubled government inspiring any hope as far as protection of the minorities are concerned. The situation has reached such a low that even assurance from top state leaders, including the CM, has failed to convince the departing people.
The question is: Why does the BJP have a typical one-dimensional understanding of the northeastern problem? It just believes that illegal immigration from Bangladesh is the only reason for all the woes. Is it just concerned with illegal immigration perhaps because it gives it a perfect reason to slam Muslims. Yes, we need a viable immigration policy for the northeast but what about the real socio-economic problems of the people of that region?
It's a big ethnic issue, not meant for political games
Northeast is a region which is more an extension of south-east Asia. The Indian state has not succeeded to develop an inclusive state mechanism in all these year, either socially or economically. The marginal nationalities have remained marginal and today, when we suddenly witness a new economic force trying to integrate the nation as a whole, the uneven nationalisms are invariably coming into an inevitable conflict with each other. The fight over resources has worsened the situation.
The political leadership today has done virtually nothing to bridge the gap and instead, India's history in the recent history has established the fact that the state machinery does not necessarily take an unbiased stand.
Want to stop foreign immigrants, but can't stop Indians' exodus
We had seen tragedies unfolding in Delhi, Gujarat and Mumbai in the past irrespective of political colours and the northeasterners, who are by no means lacking in wisdom, are not ready to face another tragic tale taking shape. The saffron leaders are talking about stopping immigration by outsiders, but they even can not stop internal exodus by our own people who are innocent, which lead to undermining their fundamental constitutional rights.
Such exclusivist way of ruling India for petty gains is digging the grave for the entire country. Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj was speaking on providing moral support to the fleeing northeasterners and arrive at a political consensus on the issue. But that is asking the politicians to go back to the basics but the basics have gone horribly wrong.