Congress spokesperson Digvijaya Singh defended Assam’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi‘s functioning during the violence in Assam, saying he cannot be judged on the basis of one incident of communal violence when tensions between the Bodo tribe and minority Muslims in the area have been simmering for decades.
In an interview with CNN-IBN, Singh also rejected any suggestion that the incidents in Assam could be equated to the communal violence that took place in Gujarat in 2002, saying, “The Gujarat violence was state sponsored. This is not state sponsored. The state government is trying its utmost to bring peace to Assam.”
The BJP and other opposition parties have been calling for Gogoi to step down, saying that the Congress had been repeatedly asking for the resignation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the incidents in Gujarat.
“The difference between Assam and Gujarat was that in Assam the state administration has done its best to bring about peace as soon as possible. What happened in Gujarat was in the state capital. But what happened in Assam was in rural areas, which are also inaccessible in the monsoon. So the state government had nothing to do with it”, Singh said.
On the issue of illegal migration of Bangladeshi Muslims in to the Bodo territories, Digvijaya said that the government has been trying to identify the illegal migrants in the area, adding that special courts at district level had been formed to take up such cases.
However, he said that the growth of the Muslim population in Assam had been consistent to the growth of Muslims in other states of the country.
“The main issue is a conflict of land that is arising due to flooding. The government has been trying to sort this out”, he said.
Singh added that this was not the right time for the Chief Minister to step down, saying, “We have to bring peace first. We have to stop violence. We have to provide food and medicine first.”
He also defended the fact that Gogoi chose to visit the violence affected Kokrajhar district a full five days after the violence was first reported, saying that the visit of any Chief Minister or VIP had to be at the right moment and only when peace was restored.