Updated: March 20, 2021 7:17:44 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a large election rally at Chabua in Dibrugarh district on Saturday, attacked the Congress saying that all that the grand old party cares for is grabbing power and therefore is making false promises in Assam. He added that the NDA government was needed to maintain peace and stability in the state.
“The Congress can go with anyone to grab power. For that, they can even lie to the country and its people. Today, they are touring Assam with their false promises. Be careful of them. For peace and stability in Assam, BJP-led NDA government is much needed,” Modi said.
The Congress has announced five guarantees for Assam if it comes to power — a law that nullifies the CAA, five lakh government jobs, raising tea workers’ wages to Rs 365, free electricity up to 200 units per household, and Rs 2,000 monthly income support to homemakers.
“We are committed to protecting the culture and pride of Assam,” said Modi, adding that the Congress has allied with a party that poses a major threat to Assam’s identity.
The Congress, which holds 19 seats in the outgoing Assembly, has allied with the AIUDF (14 seats) and the BPF (12 seats), along with other Left and regional parties. The BJP’s top national and state leadership has been criticising the alliance by targeting Badruddin Ajmal, the MP who leads the AIUDF, and implying that if the alliance comes to power, it will encourage undocumented migration from Bangladesh into the state. The AIUDF enjoys a large support base among the state’s Bengali-origin Muslim community.
Modi emphasised on how the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government has worked for the uplift of the state and how the “double engine government” — implying BJP-led governments at both the Centre and in the state — was crucial for the state’s progress.
Modi argued that the Congress was now trying to “take advantage” of the developmental work that the Sonowal-led BJP government has accomplished in the last five years. “You have to be careful and alert,” he told the gathering. “You need to remember that the Congress can put anyone at stake for its own benefit …Congress doesn’t care about people of Assam. It is only bothered about the chair,” he said.
Modi talked about the tea garden community, explaining how the Sonowal-led government has focussed on developing the financial, education and health standards of the community. He said, “I assure you that the NDA government will work with more attention to improve lives of the tea garden workers.”
Modi said that the state government has increased the per day wages of the tea garden community but the matter was in the court. He added that the Congress was spreading misconceptions and lies about that.
Last month, in what was seen as a step taken keeping in view the elections, the Assam government increased the wages of tea garden workers from Rs 167 to Rs 217. But the Gauhati High Court has stayed the order following a petition by the Indian Tea Association and a host of 17 tea companies. “The Congress is lying like the way it used to lie before,” Modi said.
“The NDA government is committed to increasing the daily wages of the tea garden workers,” Modi said, adding the Congress has never done anything for the development of the garden community.
The tea tribe community — comprising 17% of the state’s population and marginalised in several economic, health and education factors — holds influence in scores of Assam Assembly seats.
Modi talked about a “toolkit” to defame India’s tea and yoga in front of the whole world. He said that the Congress was supporting those who were conspiring against tea and yoga through the toolkit. It was a veiled reference to a ‘toolkit’ shared by environmental activist Greta Thunberg wherein it was said that India’s ‘yoga and chai’ image should be disrupted as one of the steps taken against the contentious farm laws.
“The people of Assam and India will never forgive the Congress for playing with Assam tea, Assam’s respect and dignity, and the lives of Assam’s lakhs of tea workers,” Modi said.
“Those who made the toolkit want that our tea gardens face tremendous losses. The Congress party supports those who conspire in this manner and then dares to ask for votes in Assam. Can we ever forgive the Congress?” said Modi, adding that the country never expected the Congress to stoop to “such standards” for electoral benefits.
Modi also said the Congress had used images from Sri Lanka and Taiwan to represent Assam. That was an “insult” to the state, the Prime Minister said.
On Thursday, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had tweeted, “Dear Rahul Gandhi, are you visiting Assam or Sri Lanka? You are welcome to visit our state as a tourist but stop insulting us over and over again!”
Sarma had attached screenshots of a photo from Sri Lanka from a stock agency to show that a Congress official tweet announcing Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state used that image to represent Assam.
Dear Rahul Gandhi, are you visiting Assam or Sri Lanka?
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 18, 2021
“The truth is that Congress is now very removed from the people of Assam,” Modi said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.