When BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was campaigning in Arunchal Pradesh last month,he took a dig at China for what he claims the neighbours expansionist policy.
Modi claimed that people of Arunachal Pradesh are the real patriots, who have been facing continuous Chinese threat. Modi’s idea was clear.
He wanted to send out a clear signal to the world leaders that he as India's prime minister would like to talk tough with China, as its lays claim on entire Arunachal Pradesh and over half a decade the Chinese Army has tried several incursions in the frontier state.
Modi’s aim might have been scoring political brownie points, but he did make the Chinese incursion a national poll issue, a helping factor for his party which is desperately trying to make a dent into Arunachal Pradesh, a strong hold of the congress.
As even as Arunachal Pradesh voted today (April 9) for two lok sabha seats and 49 seats of the 60 member state legislative assembly, given the fact that 11 candidates have already won unopposed, it was a great dance of democracy unfolding - polling officials trekking for even three days to reach the most treacherous polling stations where there are only two voters and making sure that they are able to cast their adult franchise.
And in doing so the Election Commission of India has ensured that India puts up a huge statement for the world to see that Arunachal Pradesh is very much a integral part of India and its people take active part in elections that would change India’s destiny.
Thus when Arunachal voted, the hollowness of the Chinese claims of incursion fell flat on the face of the Asian super power.
Arunachal Pradesh with its 7.35 lakhs voters were not important for national parties until this general election that has changed the thought process how national parties look at even the 25 seats in the Northeast or for that matter two seats in Arunachal Pradesh.
This election apart from Congress, which till now had ruled the roost when it came to political scenes in the Northeast, major political forces has put Arunachal in its focus.
The Saffron party has led the strike towards Arunachal Pradesh. The memories of the humiliation India faced at the hands of the Chinese in the Sino-Indian war has faded,
But the insecurity still remains. For over four decades New Delhi left Arunachal Pradesh under developed for strategic reasons.
The beginning of the millennium saw a twin strategy of the Chinese as far as Arunachal Pradesh is concerned. It started showing Arunachal Pradesh as part of China in various maps,
Its government started laying claims not only on Tawang which China claims as part of Soutern Tibet which it administers, but entire Arunachal Pradesh.
A series of Chinese troop incursion have been reported and whenever an Indian from Arunachal Pradesh applies for a Chinese visa, China issues a stapled Visa, signaling that it considers Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed land .
Even government official from Arunachal Pradesh who were part of several Indian delegations were denied normal visa in past and given stapled visa by Beijing.
New Delhi is yet to get Beijing moving one bit on the visa regime. In Arunachal Pradesh the core issues of Communication bottleneck remains unresolved.
The trans Arunachal highways project is struck in a limbo. The train link just reacted before elections.
Literacy rate is still low and scopes of higher educaton is less as New Delhi did not have time for sorting out these issues.
Yet Arunachal has ensured India’s victory over China in the ballot diplomacy. Thus even when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Beijing on October 2013, China did not budge on the stampled visa issue for Arunachalees and India could not raise much global opinion.
Although China has agreed to cooperate in issues like water sharing and information of dam development, which many see as a welcome gesture.
Half a decade back India decided to heavily dam the Brahmaputra and its tributaries and other river in Arunachal Pradesh to establish first user rights as reports were abuzz that China plans to do the same.
People of Arunachal Pradesh were told stories of earning hydro dollars, as many as 150 MoUs were signed, many raising environment alarms as the state sits on the foot hills of eastern Himalayas housing fragile ecosystems and a very earthquake sensitive zone.
In the election campaigns from Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi everyone wanted to strike cord with voters in Arunachal Pradesh on the emotive issue of racial discrimination racking up the recent killing of Arunachal youth Nido Taniam in New Delhi.
They assured protection. But they could not assure protection from China, in case there are any advances from the neighbour.