Updated: March 22, 2021 2:43:09 pm
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that Congress was supporting the makers of a ‘toolkit’ who were conspiring to destroy Assam’s tea industry, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit back saying he looked away when the state was facing devastating floods and grappling with violence over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and is now making a big deal of a tweet by “a 22-year-old”.
On a two-day visit to the state, Priyanka was speaking at a public meeting in Jorhat in Upper Assam. She later went on to address rallies in Khumtai in Golaghat district and Nazira in Sivasagar. All three Assembly constituencies will poll on March 27.
“I was listening to the Prime Minister’s speech on Saturday when he said he was sad about something. I thought he was about to raise a serious issue. But then he brought up a tweet by a 22-year-old woman,” Priyanka said.
Addressing a rally in Chabua (Dibrugarh district) on Saturday, Modi raked up the toolkit issue, saying it was a ploy to defame India’s tea industry and Yoga on the global stage. He accused the Congress of being in cahoots with those conspiring against tea and Yoga. While not taking names, he was referring to the ‘toolkit’ that found mention in environment activist Greta Thunberg’s recent tweet and was shared with her by fellow climate activist Disha Ravi. “The people of Assam and India will never forgive the Congress for playing with the state’s tea, respect and dignity, as well as the lives of lakhs of tea workers,” Modi said.
Responding to the PM’s charge on Sunday, Priyanka said, “If he is so distressed about a tweet by a 22-year-old, why does he not feel the same about the Assam floods? Where was he when the state was reeling under devastating floods and was on the boil over CAA?”
Of the five key promises of the Congress in its Assam manifesto is a law to nullify the CAA. The others include five lakh government jobs, raising the daily wage of tea garden workers to Rs 365, provide free electricity up to 200 units per household and Rs 2,000 in monthly income support to homemakers.
Criticising the BJP for not delivering on its promises, the Congress leader said, “Did they give you 25 lakh jobs? Did they protect your Jaati Maati Bheti? Did they implement Clause 6? None of these promises has been fulfilled.”
Stepping her attack on PM Modi, Priyanka said, “The Prime Minister said the Congress had ‘insulted Assamese people and culture.’ Now tell me, which party has given Assam a leader as great as Hiteshwar Saikia? Which party has given Assam a Chief Minister of Tarun Gogoi’s stature? Both devoted their lives to Assam and the Congress. Had they still been around, they would have never hurt Assam’s culture. They would have never brought in something like the CAA.”
On Modi’s promise of a “double-engine” government, Priyanka said he was, perhaps, referring to the BJP’s “two chief ministers” for Assam. She was hinting at the perceived rivalry between finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the hot seat in the new government.
“They said you would get an Assamese chief minister, a government that would be run from Assam. But instead, you have a government which is run from Delhi. Without Delhi’s permission, nothing can be done in Assam,” Priyanka said.
Attacking key regional player and BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), she said the party answers to the name of “Delhi Gana Parishad”.
Hitting out at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for insulting 15th century Vaishnavite poet-saint Srimanta Sankardeva with his remark that he had “fought infiltrators”, Priyanka said, “Do they even know which century Sankardeva was born? Were there infiltrators then?”
“The truth is that the BJP does not want to focus on real issues,” she said, adding, “They are busy selling Assam’s properties, its oil refineries, its airport to their industry friends.”
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