Shillong: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s plan to expand in the north-east and wrest power from the Congress in Meghalaya has run into rough weather with resignation by two senior tribal leaders of the party in the state.
Both of them were district president and had good following in the Garo hill region which accounts for 24 out of the total 60 assembly seats.
The development is an off-shoot of the beef controversy. Though the government led by the party at the Centre had not put any ban either on beef eating or cow slaughter, some rumour-mongers talked exactly of the opposite.
It was propagated that the new cattle trade rules were mainly aimed at banning cow slaughter and prohibiting beef eating. In north-eastern states like Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland majority of people are beef-eaters. They have been eating beef for ages and any change in the food habit at this stage is difficult to make.
BJP leaders fought hard to dispel the rumour and re-assure that the central government had not made any such move and that they can live and eat they were eating and living. But the mis-information campaign worked and worked to the disadvantage of the party. Two tribal leaders,one by one, announced that they would organise a beef-beer fest in protest.
First it was Bernad . N. Marak who came out with this announcement which was followed by Bachu. C. Marak. The party took it as an offence and did not allow them to organise this kind of fest. Even the beef fest held in Tamil Nadu and Kerala by Congress workers was resented by the Congress party.
Though these leaders claim that they have resigned on their own, the party sources said that they were asked to do so when they refused to change their programme. The sources also said that they were in a mood to join another party and that they provoked the party for this reason.
Whatever may the reason, the party’s plan has received a set-back and it should take immediate remedial measures to regain the lost ground as elections are due early next year. In addition this state, assembly elections will be held in Tripura next year.
Both these states are being ruled by the party’s rivals for more than ten years. So, it was not easy for the party to capture power in these states. The new development has made the task more difficult.