Updated: March 24, 2021 2:07:20 am
The BJP on Tuesday released its manifesto for Assam promising a “corrected National Register of Citizens (NRC)” if it came to power. Among its ten commitments, the party also mentioned several developmental measures, including a promise to solve Assam’s flood problem, as well as protection of indigenous rights.
Unveiling the “Sankalpa Patra” in Guwahati, BJP national president, JP Nadda said, “We are committed to bringing a corrected NRC to secure and protect Assam…We will protect genuine Indian citizens and detect illegal infiltrators so that Assam can remain Assam’s.”
The final Assam NRC — which excluded 19 lakh people — was published on August 31, 2019. Following that, the Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP government, alleging wrongful exclusions and inclusions, maintained that it will not accept the NRC in its current form. Since then, the list has remained in a limbo, with those excluded not yet issued rejection orders with which they can appeal at the state’s Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs).
While in the neighbouring state of West Bengal, which is also going to polls, the BJP promised to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) at the first Cabinet meeting if it came to power, the law — which caused widespread protests in Assam — found no mention in the manifesto.
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While the CAA was passed by the Modi government in December 2019, it is still to come into force as its rules are yet to be notified. While the BJP has stayed silent on the matter in Assam, the Congress has made it one of its main poll planks.
When asked about it, Nadda said that the CAA had “been passed by the Parliament” and that “it would be implemented in letter and spirit.” On the Congress’s poll promise to nullify the law, he said that the law was a “central legislation” and by voting in Assam, “a state legislation cannot change a central legislation.” “This could either be lack of knowledge or a way to dupe the public of Assam,” he said.
Nadda said the BJP’s aim in Assam has always been protection of “Jaati, Maati and Bheti” or indigenous interests.
To that end, the party has promised a delimitation exercise (act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats to represent changes in population) to protect the political rights of the people, a task force to recover Sattra land from “illegal encroachment”, financial aid of Rs 2.5 lakh to all Naamghars and places of worship of tribals, and distribution of land pattas (titles) to all landless Indian citizens in Assam.
With a special focus on women voters, the party has said that it will increase the dole out of Orunudoi — a DBT scheme aimed at women members of underprivileged families — from Rs 830 to Rs 3,000. Thirty lakh families will be brought under it.
Other points include Mission Bala Unnayan, or free education for every child in government schools and free bicycles for students in and above Class 8, and the Assam Aahar Atmanirbharta Yojana, which will drive the state towards self-sufficiency in essential food items.
“We have worked tirelessly in Assam, whether it is about protection of culture, security of state or commitment to prosperity,” said Nadda.
He said that Assam will become India’s fastest job creator in the country and promised two lakh government jobs (out of which one lakh will be provided before March 31, 2022). Another ‘Sankalpa’ — or commitment — is to make Assam India’s entrepreneurial hub. Ten lakh youth entrepreneurs will be created throughout the Swami Vivekananda Asam Youth Employment Yojana.
The party has also promised that Assam will become “flood-free”, if voted to power. “Under the Mission Brahmaputra, we will look for new ways to protect Assam from the devastation of annual floods,” Nadda said, “We will approach it scientifically — build big reservoirs to collect water from the river and its tributaries.” A mechanism of dredging of the river from Dhubri (in western Assam) to Sadiya (in easter Assam) is part of the plan.
The event was attended by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam BJP President Ranjeet Dass, Assam BJP in-charge Jay Panda, Union ministers and BJP leaders Narendra Singh Tomar and Jitendra Singh, among other dignitaries and politicians.
Assam will go to polls in three phases: March 27, April 1 and April 6. Results will be declared on May 2.
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