Updated: February 14, 2021 10:48:01 pm
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Sunday claimed that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi takes advice from “Arabic-speaking people” — apparently hinting at All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal — “which is why his first poll rally in the northeastern state was wasted”.
The Congress has joined hands with the AIUDF and four other political parties to form a Grand Alliance against the ruling BJP for the upcoming Assembly election, which is likely to take place in the state in March-April.
Claiming that the capacity of Boarding field in Sivasagar district, where Gandhi’s rally was scheduled, is about 12,000 to 15,000, Sarma said, “He (Gandhi) could have addressed the rally through a video conference. He came by a chartered flight, then took a chopper to reach the venue. The CRPF cover was there, administration people worked tirelessly for it. So, it was an expense of around Rs 35 lakh. And I feel this money is wasted,” Sarma said.
Sarma, who was once close to Gandhi when in the Congress, said the Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad could have visited the Kamakhya temple and ‘satras’ (Vaishnavite places of worship) at Batadrava and Majuli. “In this way, he would have met more people than he did in today’s rally. He is a busy man and has lots of important work like running the farmers’ protests. He is taking advice from Arabic-speaking people and that is why the plans have gone wrong,” he said. “It would have been better if he was advised by Assamese people,” Sarma added.
I am extremist in protecting Indian, Assamese culture: Himanta
Labelling Ajmal the “enemy of Assam”, Sarma Sunday called himself “an extremist while protecting Indian and Assamese culture”.
Accusing Ajmal of trying to do something alien to Assamese culture, Sarma, the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor, said he will keep talking about politics of identity till the Lok Sabha MP and opposition leader is on the political scene.
“I am an extremist in protecting Indian and Assamese culture in this land. If anybody has given me this title, kindly convey my regards and thanks to them,” Sarma told reporters when asked about the opposition branding him as the extreme of polarisation politics.
“I am trying to protect Indian nationalism… There have to be two extremes. So, if there is a north pole, there will be a south pole. If Badruddin Ajmal disappears, then we will also disappear. Then we will talk about development and something else. But as long as Badruddin Ajmal is there, we will talk about development and politics of identity. And if that made me an extremist, I am happy about that,” PTI quoted him as saying.
“Probably this is the most dangerous phase of Assam politics. He (Ajmal) is bringing money from fundamentalist organisations. In the name of social service, he is creating a network which is not conducive for Assamese culture,” Sarma added.
BPF not to be part of BJP-led NDA in Assam polls: Himanta
Sarma also made it clear that the ruling BJP in the state will not have any tie-up with its existing ally Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) in the upcoming Assembly polls. In the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), the BJP has already sealed an alliance with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and is currently holding talks with another outfit, Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), on seat-sharing, Sarma said. “We have been saying many times that our alliance with BPF was for five years only, and both sides were committed to it. They are still in our government and it is healthy politics,” the BJP leader said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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