The Telegraph
Sunday , March 9 , 2014
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NE guests feel ‘left out’

- No woman allowed to ask questions at Modi meet

New Delhi, March 8: Left out. That is what women from the Northeast living in Delhi thought of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s chai pe charcha broadcast from the BJP headquarters here to 500 locations across the country.

Virtually fooled into attending the event here with an invitation card that suggested Modi would interact with women from the Northeast living in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR), a few hundred women and men turned up.

“Northeastern women residing in Delhi and NCR are cordially invited for a discussion over a tea with Hon’ble Narendra Modiji,” said the invite sent to several women and activists from the Northeast. The hoardings and banners today had a different story as they said nothing about the Northeast. Modi’s event was simply another tea party video-conferenced to several other locations across the country.

But for a chance question on women’s security that elicited a reference to the Northeast by Modi himself, no woman from the region was allowed a question till late into the event. One question was allowed towards the end when the audience began to leave.

“We are feeling completely left out — yes, just the way the Northeast is (out of major deliberations),” said Marina Golmei, a student who stomped out of the chai pe charcha with her friends after two hours of a hopeless wait. Most were curious students, both men and women, who came to see what Modi’s views on the Northeast are.

There was apparently no plan from Modi’s camp to have an interaction with the northeasterners. Questions came in from Tokyo and Washington, Allahabad, Ahmedabad and Danapur, but Delhi’s Northeast diaspora was not on the list of questioners.

A group of Hindu College students, hoping they would ask some questions, came for the event with an invitation. Madhuri Deka, a third year BA (Honours) student of sociology, said they wanted to ask Modi to preside over a Northeast Festival at their college.

“We came to invite him and hoped we will be interacting with Modiji and asking some questions,” said Monalisa Tonsing, another sociology student of Hindu College that has about 500 students from the region. Manas Deka, one of the hosts, had no answer as he mumbled some excuses about an International Women’s Day event with a wider audience.

It is not clear if Monalisa and Madhuri still wanted to have Modi as chief guest at their fest as Deka said it was difficult to meet Modi.

To a question on women’s security from an audience at a South Delhi mall, Modi said there was a need for more policewomen. He then referred to a proposal he made to chief ministers from the northeastern states on Gujarat’s readiness to accept a deputation of 200 women police personnel every year from each of the eight states. He said there was no response from the chief ministers yet.

The BJP, that is looking at the Northeast in a bigger way than in the past, seemed to have lost the opportunity to build a bridge with the diaspora in Delhi today.

Chandra Singh, a student hailing from Kakching in Manipur, flashed an invitation card he had received and said he was disappointed seeing the banners that said nothing of what was mentioned on the card.

Ironically, Modi has been quite enthusiastic about states in the Northeast and has scheduled more visits to Assam and Manipur in the run-up to the polls.

He had also mentioned the Nido Tania case at his rally in Meerut last month.