Updated: May 11, 2021 5:49:41 am
The first duty of the new government would be to check the spread of Covid in the state and fresh measures will be announced for the same after the first cabinet meet on Tuesday, Himanta Biswa Sarma said shortly after taking oath as Assam’s 15th Chief Minister. He also reiterated that the BJP government will seek re-verification of the National Register of Citizens published in Assam in 2019.
Sarma said that it is his government’s pledge to take Assam “to greater heights of prosperity” and propel it to be among the leading states in the country, while pursuing the “ideals and values” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In his first press meet after becoming the CM, 52-year-old Sarma said, “Covid situation in Assam is alarming. We have seen that our daily cases have crossed almost 5,000. So, obviously, tomorrow when the cabinet meets for the first time, we will discuss Covid situation from all perspectives. We will take all the measures, whatever is required, to control this outbreak.”
Sarma said that as the CM he would work to fulfil all the promises the BJP has made in its election manifesto. “The promises we made during elections were not made just like that. These are promises made for implementation,” Sarma said.
The Chief Minister said that the Assam government would be seeking a re-verification of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in Assam in 2019. “Regarding the NRC, our position is very clear. We want that in border districts, we want a re-examination of 20 per cent names included and in other districts, that of 10 per cent names,” Sarma said. “If after this examination, the published NRC is proven to be correct, then the state government will accept the NRC and proceed for the next steps. However, if, during the re-examination rampant anomalies are found, then we will seek that the SC looks at it in new light.”
The NRC, published in August 2019 under direct supervision of the Supreme Court, excluded 19 lakh from around 3.3 crore applicants. But NRC authorities have not yet been issued rejection orders, with which they can appeal against the exclusion at the state’s Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs). The FTs will then decide whether the person is a foreigner or an Indian citizen, keeping the citizenship status of over 19 lakh people in a limbo.
Sarma appealed to insurgents, including the chief of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA-I), Paresh Baruah, to leave the path of violence and return to the mainstream. “Murders and kidnappings… they do not solve problems, but complicate matters,” Sarma said.
In April, three employees of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) were kidnapped by the ULFA-I from Assam’s Sivasagar district. Two of the three men have been rescued by security forces while hunt is on for the third. In December last year, two employees of Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited, were kidnapped by the ULFA-I and the NSCN from a drilling site in Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district — both have been rescued.
6 new faces in Assam Cabinet
Guwahati: The new 14-member Assam cabinet with six fresh faces took oath on Monday in a ceremony in Guwahati. Among the six new faces are state BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass; former Rajya Sabha MP, Sahitya Academy awardee and founder of BJP’s ally in Bodoland region UPPL, Urkhao Gwra Brahma; prominent Mising community leader Dr Ranuj Pegu, Ashok Singhal and Bimal Bora.
The only woman in the cabinet is Ajanta Neog, who quit the Congress as the Golaghat MLA in December last year and has been a minister in the Tarun Gogoi government. Her husband Nagen Neog was assassinated in 1996 by suspected ULFA militants. He was then a minister in the Hiteswar Saikia government in the state.
Pijush Hazarika, who was the junior health minister in the previous government and worked closely with the then health minister Sarma, has also been inducted. Ministers of state in the previous government Sanjay Kishan and Jogen Mohan too took oath as cabinet ministers.
AGP leaders Atul Bora and Keshab Mahanta, and BJP leaders Chandra Mohan Patowary and Parimal Suklabaidya have retained their cabinet positions. But senior BJP leader Siddhartha Bhattacharya and AGP leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury, who were prominent members of the outgoing cabinet, have been dropped. ENS
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