Elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam without a break since 1991 when then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had picked him up as his finance minister,Manmohan Singh said he had remained “homeless” and a “migrant” at a tender age until he finally found a home in Assam that gave him a sense of belonging.
“I was born in a distant and dusty village in a part of this subcontinent that is no longer in India. At a tender age I became homeless and a migrant. It is in Assam that I have finally found a home that has given me a sense of belonging,” Prime Minister Singh said here on Friday.
An “ordinary resident” of Guwahati,Singh however is technically a tenant of Hemoprabha Saikia,widow of former chief minister Hiteswar Saikia,since 1990. The Prime Minister once again referred to Assam as his “adopted home state” and then went on to describe himself as “an adopted son” of the state.
“The friendship,the affection and the warmth that each one of you has so readily extended to me is something I cannot and will not ever forget,” he said,extending the people belated rongali bihu — the Assamese New Year — greetings.
Singh in fact was supposed to be in Guwahati for the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Assam Legislative Assembly on April 7,the day on which the House was founded in 1937,but had to put it off for at least two reasons,one being that April 7 is also the foundation day of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).
The Prime Minister however said it was Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent visit — and not the banned ULFA — which played a part in rescheduling his visit to his “adopted home”.
“I was to be here two weeks ago,but President Zardari’s visit to Delhi required me to reschedule my visit. I am sorry that I was unable to join you on April 7 which was the anniversary date for the Assam legislature,” Singh said.
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