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BJP Advocates ‘Unity In Diversity’ To Woo Voters In Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh

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The BJP Arunachal Pradesh district executive meeting, Changlang district unit, was held at Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh – the Chakma-Hajong bastion – on June 5, 2018. The choice of venue in itself was interesting as Diyun never ever got to host a political meeting of this magnitude. The great magnitude of the meeting was not to be gauged by the number of people participating but by the number of communities who participated. In many ways, it was a show of power and numbers as people from the Singpho, Chakma, Deori, Ahom, Hajong, Sonowal and Adivasi communities from across Diyun, Jairampur, Miao, Modoi, Itanagar, Changlang, Bordumsa and Namsai showed up, filling up the whole space and also spilling out of the Diyun circuit house.

It was however a sight to behold when people from every community intermingled in hordes and sat down to lunch – a true sight of ‘unity in diversity’ which Tapir Gao, BJP State President, made a mention of in a different context when he equated Diyun-Bordumsa to a ‘mini India’ due to the diversity of communities inhabiting the constituency. Tapir Gao then urged the people to preserve this composite culture of Diyun as he believes that it is their biggest strength provided they remain united.

While the incumbent MLA, Nikh Kamin, became the subject of attack and criticism of several speakers including Tapir Gao, the speakers mostly stuck to the enumeration of the achievements of the BJP government at the Centre and the State, and the schemes for uplifting the poor and various infrastructural development projects in the offing like roads and bridges, thereby wooing voters for the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections in 2019. The accusing fingers of the speakers pointed at “the division created among the people and Gaon Burahs of Diyun especially the Chakmas and Hajongs” by the incumbent MLA and also the easily visible deplorable condition of the roads connecting Diyun to Namsai and Miao.

Tapir Gao, choosing to keep the suspense alive with multiple claims for the BJP ticket for Diyun-Bordumsa constituency and equally enticing and also cautioning the claimants, said, “Only pro-BJP speeches will not do but the true emancipation of the poor would. The candidate who is likely to garner maximum support will be the one who will land the BJP ticket. Whoever gets the ticket, rest assured, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu and I can work hard enough to ensure the victory of BJP. However, if multiple candidates from among us choose to contest the elections despite not landing the BJP ticket, it would mean giving the advantage to the opposition yet again.”

While advising the BJP workers on how to make the party stronger, Tapir Gao said, “There are 115 schemes to uplift the poor launched by the Narendra Modi government. You should shoulder the responsibility of delivering these schemes to every house. Before that, you have to be educated about and be aware of the ‘what’s and how’s’ of these schemes. With the conclusion of the district executive meeting, vigorous work should begin and booth level committees should be constituted.”

Several speakers, while emphasising the ideals of BJP said, “BJP does not believe in taking advantage of the poor through exploitation but believes that everyone has the right to live a life of dignity. As a consequence of running the government based on these party ideals, BJP has managed to curb corruption and launch numerous schemes meant for the poorest of the poor.” These reminders of the ideals of the BJP must have got a section of the audience – especially the Chakma and Hajong participants – thinking if their rights-less existence despite being citizens of India by birth would be improved.

It is common knowledge that 11 different communities inhabit Diyun-Bordumsa constituency. It was perhaps a masterstroke to bring together almost all of these communities at the BJP district executive meeting to showcase and project an undeniable “all’s well” picture and woo voters while at the same time, pushing the longstanding predicament of the Chakma and Hajong people into oblivion. Incidentally, by way of fleetingly pointing to the vexed Chakma and Hajong issue, one of the speakers said, “In Diyun-Bordumsa constituency there are about 16,000 voters but about one lakh population vie for the facilities that are meant for the voters. It is a unique case in the true sense.”

Tapir Gao, outlining the way forward for and underpinning the BJP’s vision for Diyun-Bordumsa, concluded by saying, “All the communities need to stay united with BJP for development and progress to come their way. The way to ensure funds to flow to Diyun-Bordumsa for roads, bridges, school infrastructure, etc. is by ensuring that a BJP MLA is voted to power.”

It is however easy to make out that the Chakma and Hajong people could hardly be convinced by the plethora of pitches made by the speakers to vote for BJP because they are used to thinking, “What difference would it make in our lives even if we voted them to power with all our might?” And, they cannot be blamed for thinking like that given the way they continue to be deprived of jobs, ration card, contractual work and many such rights including MNREGS, PDS, NFSA, IAY, NRLM, RAY and NRHM.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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