‘Congress will improve NE tally’

An alumnus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Bordoloi was appointed as con- venor of the North East Congress Coordination Committee (NECCC) in August last year.

‘Congress will improve NE tally’

Pradyut Bordoloi is one of the prominent leaders of the Congress in the North East. As a minister in the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam, he held various important portfolios, including Power. He was elected as an MLA from Margherita for the first time in 2001 and repre- sented the same for many years. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he won from the Nagaon parliamen- tary seat, a bastion of the BJP, as a Congress nominee. An alumnus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Bordoloi was appointed as con- venor of the North East Congress Coordination Committee (NECCC) in August last year.

In an interview with Santu Das of The Statesman, Bordoloi talks about the initiatives taken by the UPA gov- ernment during its regime for the NE region, Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and the situation in Manipur.


Q: The BJP-led government at the Centre has been repeatedly saying that it is giving special attention to the North East region since it came to power. What would you like to say ?


A: Any kind of development that takes place in the North East is wel- come. But, you have to realise that this is a continuous process. It’s a very long process. From 2007, a very special economic policy was taken up by the UPA government at the Centre for the region. I am happy that the present government is also continuing though they have done away with the “special category” recognition, which we also need and want even now.

Q: How do you see the work of the previous UPA government when compared with that of the current dispensation ?

A: There is a very specific policy shift. Earlier, during the UPA govern- ment, North East was given the status of “special category” which has been taken away. They have disbanded all kinds of specific policies that were aimed to “incentivise” investment, trade and commerce, for example, the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy. You have to give incentive so that the investment for industry, manufac- turing or service sectors takes place and employment opportunities can be cre- ated. This specific policy was aimed to promote investment. The policy has been disbanded, taken away. Maybe they are building roads or flyovers or airports. But a specific policy towards the North East has been taken away. That is why it is affecting the region. Even if new roads are being constructed, investment is not taking place. There has been a huge exodus of youth seeking jobs to the rest of the country from the North East.

Q: What is your take on BJP accusing Congress of doing poli- tics over the issue in Manipur?

A: Manipur is very “inconse- quential” for the interests of the BJP because Manipur has got just two parliamentary seats. That is why they are ignoring Manipur. The state has been burning since 3rd May. Till date, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not visited the state. Manipur has kept burning. The government has been very “apathetic”. Manipur or North East does not have many Lok Sabha seats, so they are not bothered. They would rather pay attention to the bigger states like UP where they can get those seats and form the government again.

Q: BJP is gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections across the country. The party has exuded confidence of winning maximum seats in the NE also. What would you like to say?

A: The BJP has adopted a very specific policy in the North East. Except for Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, BJP does not have a foothold in other states. They tied up with some regional parties in each state and the particular party is given the driver’s seat and BJP takes the passenger’s seat. That’s how they are increasing their tally. North East as a whole has 25 seats. With this kind of strategy, they are trying to increase their tally.

Q: What is the Congress party doing to strengthen itself at the grass root level ? Recently Rahul Gandhi carried out the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra (BJNY) in the NE region. Do you think the yatra will have an impact on the upcoming elections?

A: I want to state it very clearly that Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra started from Manipur. Why Manipur? Because Manipur and North East are being “neglected” by BJP and there have been a lot of “injustices” to the people of the region. This is a nyay yatra and this is to unite the entire country with compassion, equity and justice. That is the sole objective of the yatra. This is not an electoral yatra. This yatra is not aimed to get less or more seats. It has nothing to do with elections. Rahul Gandhi is giving the message that India will have to be united against the “divisive” strategy of BJP. Maybe indirectly, it will benefit the Congress party. In Assam , the govern- ment did not allow the yatra to enter into the city. But, despite that people came out in large numbers. That shows the entire objective of the yatra is resonating well with the mindset of the people.

Q: What are the issues that the Congress would take up in the upcoming general elections ?

A: Issues are all in the open. The BJP is trying to “divide” people on reli- gious lines. Congress is uniting peo- ple. By polarising people on religious lines, it is like giving “opium” to the people. Issues like unemployment , price rise, inequality among people are very cleverly “hoodwinked and camouflaged”.

Q: How many Lok Sabha seats is the Congress expecting in the North East ?

A: It is very difficult to say. Last time we didn’t do very well, out of 25 seats, Congress got only four, three in Assam and one in Meghalaya. But, this time we are hoping that our num- ber will increase with a very judicious process of selection of candidates. I am very sure we will be able to increase the tally.

Q: Congress National Alliance Committee (NAC) is holding talks with the parties of the INDIA bloc ? What is the status with regards to the North East ?

A: The Congress party has made it very clear it is very open to have an electoral alliance and the dialogue is on with the parties of the INDIA bloc. In Assam, there are regional parties which are opposed to BJP also…all these parties are being taken on board. All the issues related to seat sharing are to be sorted out at the national level.