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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Guarantee to defend the idea of Assam: Rahul Gandhi releases Congress manifesto

Apart from a memorial to be built for the anti-CAA 'martyrs', pension to the families of martyrs of CAA, Assam movement and Language Movement (Bhasha Andolan) are also promised.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
March 21, 2021 4:19:20 am
Rahul Gandhi in Guwahati on Saturday. (Photo credit: Assam Pradesh Congress Committee)

Terming it the “people’s manifesto”, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched the party’s official election manifesto in Guwahati on Saturday. Despite it having the Congress symbol on it, Rahul said that it is a “people’s manifesto” with the “aspirations of the people of Assam” in it.

While the Congress’s five guarantees, which is the core of their election campaign, was already announced earlier this month when Priyanka Gandhi visited Assam, a set of additional guarantees touching upon women empowerment, agricultural and administrative reforms, infrastructural development, and those focusing on cultural preservation were released on Saturday. The five guarantees announced earlier include a law to nullify the CAA, five lakh government jobs, raising the wages of tea garden workers to Rs 365, free electricity up to 200 units per household, and Rs 2,000 monthly income support to homemakers.

Among the key points in the official manifesto are assistance to women trapped in micro-finance debts, free yarn to weavers, revival of paper mills in Jagiroad and Panchgram which closed down during the BJP rule, farm debt waivers, ST status to six communities including the Tai Ahoms, Morans, Motoks, Chutias, Tea Tribes and Koch-Rajbangshis. A Covid-relief package to those affected by the pandemic the most such as beauticians, electricians and sound artists also finds a mention in the manifesto.

To prepare the manifesto, Congress workers and leaders had travelled on a 1200-km-long journey across Assam as part of the Asom Basaon Ahok (Come Let’s Save Assam) campaign and spoke to people from all walks of life. “We collected a wide range of opinions from a diverse set of people — women, farmers, youths,” said MP Gaurav Gogoi, Chairperson, Election Manifesto Committee.

The manifesto also addressed measures to tackle Assam’s flood and erosion problems, and said that necessary steps will be taken to ensure 100% Central funding for flood control. Apart from the hike in wages, a slew of measures were announced for the betterment of the Tea Tribes including providing them with land pattas, building private schools for children etc.

The party also promised to build Gaushalas in each district to help dairy farmers. A mini secretariat and development measures in Barak Valley as well as developmental plans and welfare schemes for the hill regions of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, and the districts under the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) were announced.

Apart from a memorial to be built for the anti-CAA ‘martyrs’, pension to the families of martyrs of CAA, Assam movement and Language Movement (Bhasha Andolan) are also promised.

“This manifesto gives five main guarantees but it also has a guarantee that defends the idea of the state of Assam, the harmony of Assam, tradition, language and history of Assam,” said Rahul, who is on a two-day visit to the state.

When asked about BJP’s constant vilification of AIUDF’s Badaruddin Ajmal, he said that it was “not an attack on Ajmal, but an attack on Assam.” “It is an attack on Assam’s brotherhood, history and culture,” he said, “This is not an election about Ajmal, it is an election about Assam.”

Earlier addressing a campaign rally in Mariani (Jorhat) and Gohpur (Biswanath), Rahul criticised the BJP for attacking the “language, culture” and the entire “way of life” of Assam. “There are many examples of this but the biggest one is CAA.”

“Assam means that everyone lives unitedly, with mutual respect and brotherhood. Five years ago the BJP came to power. But what the BJP has done for Assam is only spread hatred,” he said.

He also slammed the BJP for giving Assam away to “outsiders”. “The government took Rs 2,000 crore to modernise Guwahati airport. Now the airport has been given to Adani,” he said.

Assam goes to polls in three phases, first on March 27, followed by April 1 and April 6.

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