Agencies & Staff Reporter
New Delhi/ Guwahati, February 3: Under attack, an embarrassed BJP on Tuesday rushed to correct its "mistake" of terming the Northeast people as "immigrants" in its Vision Document, saying "the brothers and sisters of the Northeast are the pride of Delhi".
BJP’s Vision Document for the Delhi assembly polls stirred up a controversy by referring people from northeastern states in the tiol capital as "immigrants".
The 24–page document that entails the party’s roadmap in taking Delhi forward by making it a world–class city and steps in public welfare includes a section on "North Eastern Immigrants to be Protected". The section talks of special cells in all police stations and 24–hour helpline numbers to be set up "for protection of north–eastern migrants".
"Special cells in all police stations and special 24–hour helpline numbers to be set up for the protection of the NorthEastern migrants. To safeguard the students of NE origin, special guardianship will be arranged with local families for them," the document says.
Congress was quick to react, with its leader Ajay Maken, questioning: "Does the BJP want to say that the Northeast is not part of the country?"
Maken said that at a time when Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was visiting Chi, which lays claim to Aruchal Pradesh, was it proper for the BJP to come out with a vision document terming the Northeast people "immigrants".
He asked the BJP to rectify the error and apologise to the country.
"We will not tolerate that the BJP does this (refer to the northeast people as immigrants)," he said.
BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar later said the party was withdrawing the word "immigrant" and that it was "mistakenly used".
"The brothers and sisters of the Northeast are the pride of Delhi. The word was mistakenly used. We withdraw the word, and we repeat that their (Northeast people’s) welfare is as important as that of any citizen of Delhi and the country," he said.
BJP leader and Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is from Aruchal Pradesh, said the word was a "typo" and a "clerical error".
But besides the word "immigrants", the Vision Document has several other similar "clerical errors".
The document says it is a "comprehensive document covering all aspects, authored by a very experienced senior Delhi BJP team".
While it contains a list of 37 assurances, a close look shows a botched numbering process.
After it reaches no.22 in the list, the numbering goes awry, and again begins from no.16 and goes on to no.37. In effect, it is a list of 44 assurances, but the party says "over 35".
When the second time no.20 is listed, it vaguely says "Miscellaneous".
In Guwahati, the All Assam Students Union termed the act as an “insanity” and said the people of the Northeast have been insulted. The students’ body demanded an apology from the BJP.
“The BJP has committed a crime. We will not accept the clarification that it was a printing mistake. It proves yet again that tiol political parties have been meting out step–motherly treatment to the region,” AASU advisor Sammujal Bhattacharyya said.
The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee also reacted strongly saying “tagging of the people of Northeast as “immigrants” is a clear sigl of the bad days ahead for the people of the region”.
“After surrendering on its pre–poll stand on the land swap deal with Bangladesh, Prime Minister rendra Modi, in order to bolster his intertiol image as a liberal donor might have developed imminent plans to hand over the remaining sovereign regions referred in the Indian context as the Northeastern region to Bangladesh and Chi,” said the Assam Congress unit.
AGP president Atul Bora said by terming it as a “clerical mistake”, the BJP is making a fool of itself. “Prime Minister rendra Modi had insisted that illegal foreigners should return to their countries after May 16 (counting day), and now the BJP is dubbing the people from Northeast as immigrants,” Bora said.