Recycled Oxygen

During his two-day sojourn to Shillong, the last item on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s agenda was a press conference with 150-odd journalists assembled in the Meghalaya capital for what was dubbed as the most important meeting in the region for some time. The 20-minute interaction-designed to spell out the Vajpayee government’s grand Northeast development strategy-however led to more confusion and raised several questions about the outcome of the two-day pow-wow that Vajpayee and his A team had with the governors and chief ministers of the Northeast and Sikkim.

Although Vajpayee did announce a Rs 10,271-crore “agenda for economic development” for the Northeast at the end of the conference, a closer look at the details revealed that some of the schemes-like border fencing and road construction along the Indo-Bangladesh frontier-are ongoing projects and others like the grant of Rs 500 crore from the non-lapsable pool of funds has been a mere transfer of heads. “Old wine in new bottle!” was how an analyst chose to describe the entire package.