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Despite all adversities, from cow slaughter ban to unproven criminal charges on his own, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah was the most-sought-after man in Shillong on Wednesday. Although the city nearly obeyed the diktat issued by the outlawed Hynnietrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) to boycott his visit, there were beelines of organizations including the opposition parties to meet Shah to convey their grievances. While some had objections to policies of the Central government headed by the saffron party, the others pointed out at “failures” of the MUA-II state government led by chief minister Mukul Sangma. All in all, the BJP chief drew centrestage for various prominent voices of the state, despite the party being commonly seen in Meghalaya as anti-Christian and anti-tribal.

The BJP chief receiving at least a dozen memoranda from various organizations on a day of ‘bandh’ signifies the growing importance of the party itself in the state. There may be worries expressed by these organizations over policies of the BJP-led NDA government, but the piling memoranda also reflect the faith on the same party expecting it to bring solutions to issues of the various organizations. However, there were a few who went ahead with a ‘beef party’ branding Shah a criminal and his party just wanting to make India a Hindu nation. The manner of protest, notwithstanding its valid ground, did not have many takers although a few enthusiasts besides the hard core activists had the taste of beef on the street!

Besides political parties such as the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the National People’s Party (NPP), church elders, leaders of Seng Khasi faith, doctors of North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science (NEIGRIHMS), coal traders affected by the NGT ban on mining, a group of independent MLAs and farmers’ association were among those who placed their stories before the BJP chief. Shah must be happy about the amount of trust these organizations and individuals have put on him and his party to solve their issues, although some of them were created by the BJP itself like the cow slaughter ban. Former RSS leader and presently BJP general secretary Ram Madhav gave the safest answer from the party on ‘beef ban’, saying the party has no intention of banning cow slaughter in the North-east. Amit Shah, however, cleverly avoided the media apprehending the disturbing questions over cow slaughter and his antecedents. Overall, the BJP can rejoice from Shah’s tour given the amount of attention he drew from various sectors.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 24, 2015)