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.