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Aiming to corner NDA govt, Congress renews NE panel to ‘probe Chinese incursions’ in Arunachal

Earlier this month, former Arunachal CM Nabam Tuki was appointed chairman of Northeast Congress Coordination Committee, a panel first formed in 1978.

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Guwahati: The Congress, which has been critical of the Modi government for Chinese transgressions in eastern Ladakh, is now looking to highlight alleged “intrusions” by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its own.

The Northeast Congress Coordination Committee (NECCC) Thursday resolved to visit areas of Arunachal Pradesh where supposed “border incursions” had taken place.

Earlier this month, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki — who is also president of the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee — was appointed chairman of the NECCC and Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi its convenor. 

The reconstituted body, formed in 1978, held its first meeting in Guwahati Thursday. It was attended by at least three other Congress state presidents, namely Bhupen Kumar Borah (Assam), Vincent Pala (Meghalaya) and Kewekhape Therie (Nagaland). 

“Tapir Gao, who is from the BJP itself, has raised the issue of the Chinese transgression along the border areas,” Bordoloi told ThePrint. The Lok Sabha MP from Assam’s Nagaon, Bordoloi added that the Congress had raised questions about these alleged intrusions “many times” in Parliament but the “Speaker has always disallowed it”.

“We will visit these places in Arunachal Pradesh and see for ourselves,” he said.

In 2019, Tapir Gao, the BJP MP from Arunachal East, had raised the issue of alleged “Chinese incursions” into India during a discussion in the Lok Sabha. “Asaphila (Upper Subansiri district) has been captured by the Chinese, Athu-Popu, a religious place in Dibang valley, had been captured by the Chinese in 1984-85. If Doklam happens in any place, it’ll happen in Arunachal Pradesh,” Gao had said, referring to the 2017 military standoff between India and China.

ThePrint reached Tapir Gao for comment via call but did not receive a response by the time of publishing this report

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Focus on poll-bound states

The NECCC was formed in 1978 to “raise issues of the northeast” and ensure coordination between the Congress party’s various state units in the region. 

The body was reconstituted in August this year after being headless for nearly a year following the exit of former chairperson Mukul Sangma.

Sangma, along with 12 other Congress MLAs, had defected to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in November 2021.

With the reconstitution of the NECCC, the Congress hopes to reclaim ground it has lost in the northeast.

Bordoloi claimed that the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) was inspired by the NECCC.

According to Bordoloi, the NECCC will carry out a ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the northeast that will run parallel with the Congress party’s nationwide foot march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir by the same name.

Next year will see assembly elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram. 

Referring to the proposed ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Bordoloi said the party’s focus will be on poll-bound states in the northeast, adding that the “yatra will start from Shillong on 7 September”. 

Bordoloi told ThePrint that the newly-reconstituted NECCC also plans to take up a variety of issues including the “systematic attack on Congress leaders and offices”. 

Earlier this month, the Tripura Congress had accused the ruling BJP in the state of attacking party leader Sudip Roy Barman, the MLA from Agartala.

‘BJP trying to demoralise Congress workers’

On Thursday, Assam BJP president Bhabesh Kalita claimed that several opposition MLAs in the state will join the ruling BJP. 

Reacting to Kalita’s remarks, Bordoloi alleged that the BJP is trying to “demoralise” Congress workers. “This is a very devious move by the BJP, but our flock in the state is together,” Bordoloi said. 

Asked about “cross-voting” during the presidential elections last month that left the Congress red-faced, he said: “There are a few black sheep whom the party is concerned about.”

At least four Congress MLAs from Assam voted in favour of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Droupadi Murmu in the presidential polls.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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