Updated: February 15, 2021 8:22:43 am
The Congress will not allow the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act if elected to power in Assam, party leader Rahul Gandhi said Sunday at an election rally in Sivasagar district, drawing on the popular sentiment in the state against the controversial law.
Rahul and other senior state and national Congress leaders, including Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, appeared on stage with the traditional Assamese gamusa (towel) on their shoulders with the letters CAA crossed out. “Whatever happens, we will not let the CAA be implemented,” said Rahul.
Assam is expected to go to polls in April. Sunday’s event was the first big-ticket rally by the Congress. Several top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, have already visited the state multiple times since December.
On Sunday, Rahul also said the Congress will defend the Assam Accord—the 1985 agreement that set a cut-off of midnight of March 24, 1971 for identifying “foreigners”, signed after a six-year-long anti-foreigner movement.
“I want to assure you that the Congress will always defend and protected the principles of the Assam Accord — and not recede even an inch on that,” he said.
“We want to save Assam — we will not allow any power to divide Assam. If anyone wants to even touch the Assam Accord, and wants to spread hatred here, they will be taught a lesson jointly by the people of Assam and the Congress party,” he said.
While the NRC in Assam uses the same cut-off as the Assam Accord, the provisions of the CAA extend the date for accepting non-Muslim migrants up to December 31, 2014—a measure that has been widely protested in Assam.
Rahul also promised that if the party comes to power, the daily wage of the tea garden workers will be increased from Rs 167 to Rs 365. “Tea garden workers get Rs 167, and businessmen from Gujarat get entire tea gardens,” said Rahul.
A wage hike has been a long-standing demand of the tea garden community. Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently said that the government will soon announce an increase in wages.
Rahul also referred to former Assam Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi, who died last year, as his “guru”. Gogoi was conferred the Padma Bhushan this year. Rahul said he was very “hurt” that the same list that announced Gogoi also had the name of a “bureaucrat of the Prime Minister’s Office”.
“On the one side [of the list], was Tarun Gogoi who dedicated for Assam and on the other side, there was a bureaucrat of the Prime Minister Office who had done only one thing — being a yes man to Narendra Modi. Tarun Gogoi was my guru and I felt very bad,” Rahul said, without naming anyone.
Rahul also repeated his ‘hum do humare do’ jibe at the Centre.
At one point, he also asked the crowd to name the corporation that was handed the contract to maintain and operate the Guwahati airport.
“Hum do, humare do, baki sab marlo…India is run by four persons. And in Assam, there is an extension, there are two additional persons,” said Rahul, again not naming anyone.
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