statesman news service
New Delhi, 21 July
The BJP today charged the Congress-led UPA regime with downgrading the ministry of Development of North East Region (DONER) and said it reflected the central government’s neglect of the far-flung sensitive region.
“The DONER ministry set up under the Vajpayee government was doing a good job. But the Congress-led UPA is downgrading it by slashing away the funds and also handing it over to a minister of state instead of a Cabinet minister,” Mr Tapir Gao, BJP general secretary  in-charge of Nagaland, told The Statesman in New Delhi.
He alleged that by its recent actions, the Manmohan Singh government has given the impression that it wants to “wind up” the ministry.
“It is doubly sad because Dr Singh himself represents the state of Assam in the Rajya Sabha," he said, and maintained that giving a “step-motherly treatment”, the Centre has slashed funds allocation for the northeast.
“The inclusion of non-lapse-able North Eastern Council funds as part of states’ plan outplay is adding insult to the injuries.
“The special provisions for fund allocation for the region was made due to political demands and the sensitivity, but is now being done away with, and this shows the Congress’ apathy for the region,” he said.
Mr Gao, also a former MP, said under the erstwhile NDA regime, senior ministers like Mr Arun Shourie handled DONER ministry and various innovative efforts were taken to attract corporate investment.
“But under the UPA, a junior minister of state has been given the charge. It is also unbecoming that a junior minister chairs the NEC meet where all state Governors and Chief Ministers are in the Board.
“Only Nagaland chief minister Neiphio Rio has raised his voice against Congress apathy… and I am also surprised why no Congress chief minister from the region has raised a voice against this step-motherly treatment,” he said, and urged the present MoS DONER, Mr Pawan Singh Ghatowar, to “show guts” and live up to the expectations of the people and fight for the economically backward region.