NEW DELHI, Feb 3 � The BJP today kicked up a storm in the run-up to the February 7 Delhi Assembly polls, when it described the people of the North-east as �immigrants� in its vision document.
The vision document released today in presence of senior leaders including Union Ministers Ananth Kumar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Dr Harsh Vardhan, besides its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, state unit president Satish Upadhay and VK Malhotra among others, provoked sharp reactions, setting the social media on fire.
The BJP is not releasing a poll manifesto this time but has instead chosen to bring out a vision document filled with poll promises for Delhi. Interestingly, the BJP leaders did not take questions after release of the document.
A paragraph in the Vision Document 2015 mentioned under the heading: �North Eastern Immigrants to be protected�. The party promised special cells at all police stations and special helpline numbers to be set up for protection of North Eastern migrants. It further promised to safeguard the students of North-east origin. It also promised special guardianship with local families for them.
However, the use of the term �immigrants� stirred a hornet�s nest, leaving the BJP leaders red faced. A senior BJP leader from Assam observed that it may have been a case of internal sabotage and outcome of intra-party rivalry with the local unit of the BJP.
Ironically, hours after the release of the vision document, the local unit of the Delhi BJP organised a �North-east Milan� with the people hailing from the NE region. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju attended the function. Union Minister of State Sarbananda Sonowal is in Assam.
When newsmen asked him about the goof-up, Rijiju pleaded that he was unaware about it but maintained that it could have been a case of printing mistake. �How can the people of North-east be called immigrants, whereas as I am a Union Minister. It cannot be a case of policy decision and the mistake would be rectified,� he asserted.
Meanwhile, the Congress Party�s chief spokesman Ajay Maken, who is also heading the party�s election campaign, questioned whether the BJP wanted to separate the North-east from India.
�If ruling party people are saying this then how will External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj be able to talk with China on the �immigrant� issue,� he further wondered.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi hit the campaign trail for the second day today, and held rallies in Nizamuddin and Bhogal areas of South Delhi in the Jungpura Assembly constituency.
On the other hand, the social media was on fire with netizens castigating the BJP for calling people from the region immigrants. �At a time when our North East brethren are facing racial attacks, BJP shows their true intent. Instead of protecting them it calls them immigrants. Shame,� a tweet said.
�North Eastern Immigrants: Shocker in BJP Vision Document,� said another tweet.
�Folks, it�s just immigrants, not infiltrators,� commented resident editor of The Hindu Amit Barua.
A twitter user posted: �what�s the meaning of immigrants? They�re from the same country as we are.�
Another user tweeted: �Immigrant - a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country: As per dictionary/common use. Migrant the word.�
Meanwhile, at the meeting with people from the North-east, the BJP leaders assured them of all assistance. �If BJP comes to power then it would help in enacting the Rent Control Act, the source of major trouble for the people of the region. The BJP Government would also ensure adequate security for the people of the region,� said convenor of the North-east cell Manas Deka.
Reacting to BJP�s vision document, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that it proves what he has been saying all along that BJP does not know much about North-east.
�Just because they termed us as immigrants does not mean we are not Indians. We are Indian and would continue to remain so,� he said.