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How PM Modi kept his promise to the northeast in Budget 2014

by IRC-ADMIN - Jul 1 2014 12:00AM

During one of his election rallies in the North East region, the then prime ministerial nominee of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi had reportedly said in a lighter vein, “Aap logon ke yahaan Lakshmi ji nahi aayi, kyunki aap logon ne yahan Kamal khilaya nahi” (Goddess Lakshmi or prosperity didn'sct come here, because you didn'sct let Lotus flower bloom here)

During one of his election rallies in the North East region, the then prime ministerial nominee of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi had reportedly said in a lighter vein, “Aap logon ke yahaan Lakshmi ji nahi aayi, kyunki aap logon ne yahan Kamal khilaya nahi” (Goddess Lakshmi or prosperity didn'sct come here, because you didn'sct let Lotus flower bloom here). The metaphor was used by Modi to refer to the poor economic condition of the region, as goddess Lakshmi symbolizes prosperity and Lotus is the throne of the goddess of wealth. Modi'scs smart pre-poll rhetoric turned into reality in an unprecedented manner, because the region that was so far neglected and alienated, has not only been awarded with two Cabinet berths, but also an outlay of Rs 53,706 crore in the Union Budget 2014-15 announced on July 10. In the general election 2014, the BJP made its inroads in a big way in the NE region by making a dent in the Congress stronghold of Assam by winning seven out 14 seats and one out of two seats in Arunachal Pradesh. Besides, two NDA partners – Nagaland'scs chief minister Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland People'scs Front) and Meghalaya'scs PA Sangma (National People Party) also won. A mother and child in Meghalaya. AFP. A mother and child in Meghalaya. AFP. “Traditionally, our family had been voting for Congress for decades, but during these Lok Sabha polls, we voted for the BJP for the first time, and now we realize that our decision was not wrong. What Modi promised during his rallies in Assam, he showed it through announcements in the Budget, which is the first step towards deliverance,” says Bijoy Bardoloi, a retired teacher from Dibrugarh. The Budget has announced several other initiatives for the NE for promotion of sports, cultural heritage, improving road-rail connectivity and economic development. While the Rail Budget has allocated an outlay of Rs 5116 crore, a 54% increase over previous year'scs budget for various projects in the NE states, the union Budget has earmarked an additional sum of Rs 1000 crore over and above the amount provided in the interim budget for rail connectivity. The aim is to bridge the gap that has arisen due to under development and a sense of isolation that the region has faced for decades due to lack of proper connectivity. Out of total investment of Rs 37,880 crore proposed in NHAI and state roads, the Budget has made a provision of Rs 3000 crore for the NE region. “Successive central governments only looked at increased sops, freebies and funding as the only solution for the manifold problems facing the North East, whereas the situation demands a holistic multi-pronged approach. With the North East having little significance in terms of influencing politics at the Centre, the region has been left at the mercy of the bureaucrats. The scenario would now change,” says KG Suresh, senior fellow & editor, Vivekananda International Foundation. In addition, the Budget has announced setting up of a sports university in Manipur, Rs 100 crore for developing organic farming in NE states to meet global demand for organic foods; a new 24x7 channel ‘Arun Prabha'sc – to provide a strong platform to the culturally and linguistically rich NE and an annual event in the North Eastern states to promote unique sports tradition in the Himalayan region. “The budget announcements will go a long way in improving connectivity, generating employment and bringing development in NE. It'scs due to Narendra Modi, who took a pledge during his poll campaign and if BJP due to its majority gets these proposals properly implemented, it can pave way for peace talks in the insurgency-hit areas as well,” says Dr Namrata Goswami, research fellow & specialist, NE affairs, at the IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses). Modi'scs budget has given a push to the original policy of the NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee which created an exclusive Department for Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) that functions as the nodal department of the Centre to deal with matters pertaining to the development of the eight sister states. In fact, it was the Vajpayee Government which had made compulsory 10% allocation of Plan funds for NE region and had made them non-lapsable in nature. “Despite its sharing boundaries with China and other countries, no meaningful initiative has been taken so far to develop the infrastructure in these sensitive states. With China making massive investments in its territory and even making territorial claims on some of our areas, the threat assumes greater significance but the same have not been addressed adequately,” observes Suresh, who is also national secretary, My Home India, an organisation working for the welfare of the North East. To ensure proper attention to the NE, Modi inducted Sarbananda Sonowal, an MP from Assam, as MoS (Independent Charge) and Kiren Rijiju, MP from Arunachal Pradesh, as MoS in his Cabinet. Assam'scs state BJP spokesperson Adip Phukan claims what the 10 years of UPA rule could not do in terms of increasing the allocation for the NE, the Modi government has done it in its first budget.

Source - http://www.firstpost.com/india/pm-modi-kept-promise-northeast-budget-2014-1616725.html

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