NEW DELHI, Oct 17 - Stressing that rampant corruption and misgovernance have become the bane of the North Eastern States, the BJP general secretary in-charge of Assam, Ram Madhav today said that the NDA Government at the Centre has accorded top priority to strengthening relations with neighbouring SAARC and ASEAN nations to boost development activities in the region.
Madhav, who is also the director of the Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation, was addressing a seminar on �North East � Strategic Importance and Act East Policy� organised as part of the three-day North East Festival. The seminar was also addressed by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ravi Kapoor and Joint Secretary, DoNER, AM Singh and academician Noni Gopal Mahanta.
Describing corruption and misgovernance as the main hurdles of development in the North East, Ram Madhav singled out Assam to illustrate that a major part of the State is free from insurgency activities, yet there are no development activities. This is because of rampant corruption and misgovernance.
Stating that the failure to check corruption is a major failure of the local administration, Ram Madhav said that a substantial amount of Central funds has been released to the North Eastern States. �Where have these funds gone?� he asked. Corruption and political instability are plaguing the North East, whereas the need is for stable governments.
Admitting that the North-East suffers from physical and emotional disconnect, the BJP general secretary recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s statement that India�s development would not be complete if the North East remains underdeveloped.
The Government of India has accorded top priority to the development of the North East and the Centre is now exploring various options like introducing the digital communication system. �Currently, we have one digital connection between the rest of the country and the North East at Siliguri. Why not think about setting up another digital connection at Cox�s Bazaar in Bangladesh?� he suggested.
The BJP leader said that the major part of the Look East Policy was envisaged for development of physical communication between the North Eastern region and the neighbouring countries. �A number of steps taken by the Government of India will help in providing better connectivity and infrastructure,� he said.
�Our Government�s resolve is to solve the militancy problem of the North East,� the director said, referring to the signing of the framework agreement with the NSCN (I-M).
He added that Manipur need not worry about anything as their concerns over geographical and territorial integrity would be taken care of.
Referring to the Act East Policy, Ram Madhav said that for the Modi Government, the immediate priority is the immediate neighbours. Improved relations with these neighbouring countries will mean that the North Eastern region will be the biggest beneficiary, he said.
The second priority is to strengthen relations with ASEAN countries. It will be a big boon to the North Eastern States as these countries are keen on coming to the region for investing. Enormous opportunities are awaiting, he said.
Meanwhile, while inaugurating the third edition of the North East Festival, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the North East is the most beautiful destination in India and its people are also the most beautiful and nice. It is extremely heartening to see such a festival happening in Delhi, he added.