A Union home ministry preliminary study on drawing up a futuristic vision for the Northeast’s development has blamed corruption, insurgency and the contractor raj for the mess the seven states are in. "A parallel system of governance run by a colluding mass of insurgents, ministers, mlas, bureaucrats and cops is responsible for the political instability," says S.K. Agnihotri, Northeast Study Group chairman and ex-Arunachal chief secretary. The group also includes K.P.S. Gill, Lt Gen (retd) S.K. Pillai and K. Saigal. But the locals are asking the obvious: what were these eminence grises doing when they were in power?