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NE issues require united approach, says Meghalaya CM

Itanagar: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Tuesday called upon the political heads of all the northeastern states to work together while focusing on issues that matter to the region rather than taking individual stands on them.

“When it comes to solving matters of the region we tend to take individual stands and positions because of which we forget the main issue at times. It is time that we let go of the “position-minded mindset” and start taking issue-based stands,” he said while calling for unison of all regional outfits in the region.

The chief minister was addressing a conclave organized by the state unit of National People’s Party (NPP) at the Dorjee Khandu State Conventional Centre here. The theme of the conclave was ‘Regional Aspirations, National Outlook’.

Citing an example of the demand for implementation of Inner Line Permits (ILP) in Meghalaya, the chief minister said: “When it came to ILPs, we forgot that the demand for the facility to be introduced in the state was the stand we had taken and not the main issue. Our issue is/was illegal immigrants and not ILPs which needed understanding.”

In what can be termed as an alternative to ILP, the Meghalaya government has come up with the Meghalaya Residents’ Safety and Security Act (MRSSA).

The MRSSA seeks to address the issue of influx by making it mandatory for anyone who wishes to visit Meghalaya to go through a set of protocols of establishing their identity at the facilitation centers set up at several entry points of the state.

Sangma, also the national president of NPP said, when it comes to inter-state border disputes one has to focus on solutions and objectives, rather than focusing on disputes.

“Some of the inter-state border issues between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam can possibly be resolved without disputes if we focus on resolutions. We start dialogues on matters by taking a stand due to which we never reach a solution. So if we let go of the position-minded mindset we will be able to solve 50 to 60 percent of our issues,” he added.    

In terms of economic issues of the region, the chief minister said that we first need to understand our demands and problems.

“Once we know them, we will then have to think if these problems can be addressed by fulfilling the objective that the other people may have and yet protecting our people,” he said while referring to the idea of introducing working permits for outsiders.    

The chief minister in his address also spoke on the need to promote trade between the northeastern states for its economic growth and for it to become an economic powerhouse of the nation.

“There is no correct or final solution to the challenges we (northeast) have been facing for several years and there are many issues where we may not be able to see eye to eye, but we have to believe in our objectives. Aside all our affiliations, political or otherwise, the only agenda we must unanimously take forward is that of the North East and its people,” he said.

Sangma also congratulated the state unit of NPP for organizing the conclave and providing a platform for the people to share their ideas and views.

The chief minister earlier released a book titled ‘India/Northeast India: Issues, Dynamics and Emerging Realities’ edited by Rajiv Gandhi University Ph D research scholars Renu Loyi and Prem Taba.

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