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The Congress played dirty politics by skipping the crucial meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states of the North-east lost a very good chance of presenting the issues of their respective states to the Prime Minister. Of the five states ruled by the party it was only Mizoram which had the courage (of violating high command diktat) to send at least its finance minister to the meeting with Modi. However, a chief minister being present in the meeting can always make a difference. Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh did not send any representative at all! Does it mean they do not have any problems of the states to share with the Prime Minister?

The conventional Iftar party hosted by the President has done the spoiler. The Congress wanted the Prime Minister not to miss the Iftar party for a second consecutive time so badly that they sacrificed interests of their states! A Congress spokesperson justified the “boycott” saying that the Prime Minister humiliated the chief ministers for nearly seven months and didn’t give them appointment. “Now, just because he wants to find an excuse to skip the President’s Iftar, he has scheduled the meeting… they must understand that the boycott is a legitimate form of dissent in a democracy.” It is surprising that when the chief ministers got a chance to meet the Prime Minister after seven months of request, should they not be happy to place their grievances? Should Modi’s political motive, if any, surpass the interests of their states?

If Modi wanted to play to the Hindu gallery by skipping Iftar, the Congress sought the minority support by skipping the meeting. Any chief minister would be the last person to cancel a meeting convened by the Prime Minister. The reason was the diktat of Congress high command, a factor that has plagued the party since it became “Indira Congress”. The Congress chief ministers have been singing the chorus of Centre curtailing funds to their states since NDA government came to power in May last year. Wednesday’s meeting was a good chance to apprise Modi of the issue and appeal him to restore the fund flow. Their escapism creates room for the doubt that the repeated complaints about Centre’s apathy towards NE is just a political move, as is their absence from the meeting with Modi. It also raises a question if this absence has anything to do with Congress’ “minority appeasement” policy?

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 17)