Assam polls: Congress won't implement CAA if voted to power, says Rahul Gandhi; Himanta Biswa Sarma files nomination

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will campaign in Assam and West Bengal on Saturday claiming that the people of both states are keen to elect the NDA to power

FP Staff March 19, 2021 21:03:18 IST
Assam polls: Congress won't implement CAA if voted to power, says Rahul Gandhi; Himanta Biswa Sarma files nomination

(Left) Rahul Gandhi addressing studetns in Assam; (right) BJP leaders Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma after the latter filed his nomination from the Jalukbari seat in Assam. PTI

The Congress ramped up its campaign for the upcoming Assam Assembly election on Friday, with party leader Rahul Gandhi on a two-day visit to the state. He is likely to unveil the Congress' manifesto for the polls in Guwahati on Saturday, PTI reported.

Targeting the ruling BJP-led government in the state, Rahul asserted that the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) won't be implemented in Assam if Congress is voted to power. Rahul made the remark while addressing students of the Lahowal college in the Dibrugarh district.

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"It will be ensured in the state assembly that the CAA is not implemented in Assam. In the other states, we will stop it (CAA implementation) after we (Congress) come to power at the national level," he said.

The state had seen widespread anti-CAA protests from December 2019.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Twitter that he will campaign in Assam and West Bengal on Saturday.

Friday also saw Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is a BJP leader, a state minister and the convener of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), filing his nomination for the Assembly polls from the Jalukbari seat.

Sarma led a massive rally from the Sonaram Field area to the office of Kamrup Metropolitan deputy commissioner Biswajit Pegu, where he submitted his papers in the presence of Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior party leaders.

Sarma waved at his supporters, who were playing traditional musical instruments in his honour during the roadshow.

Rahul Gandhi interacts with tea plantation workers, students in Assam

Speaking to the students of Lahowal College students, Rahul was asked to comment on whether the BJP is mixing religion and politics. He said that the saffron party does not use religion but hatred to create divisions among different sections of society.

"No religion has asked to use hatred. Where is it written in Hinduism that there should have 'nafrat' (hatred)? It is BJP that spreads hatred to divide society and wherever they do it Congress goes there to promote love, brotherhood and harmony," he said.

In an apparent reference to the RSS, the senior Congress leader added that there is "a force in Nagpur" that is trying to control the entire country.

"But the youth of today should resist it with love and confidence as they are the future of democracy. Twenty years ago Assam was hit by violence, but after Congress came to power it ensured peace and development. BJP ka kaam hain todna, hamaara kaam hain jodna (BJP's work is to divide but our job is to unite)," he added.

Rahul also claimed that there is a direct relation between hatred and unemployment. "If hatred increases, unemployment will increase and vice versa. Can two sections of the society fighting against each other do business together? For business and employment opportunities to thrive, there should be harmony and brotherhood".

He also accused the saffron party of selling off Assam's resources to outsiders like the tea companies in the state and the Guwahati airport to the Adanis.

The senior Congress leader said that at present the country has a 'hum do, hamare do ka sarkar' (a government of two with two others) — "one pair in Parliament and two outside".

"Assam's resources and wealth must go into the pockets of the Assamese. The state must be managed in the interest of the people here," the Congress leader said.

The erstwhile Congress government, he said, had laid the foundation for the country's future growth, employment and development by initiating several schemes, including MGNREGA and food security.

"Can you name the schemes started by BJP? We had promised in Chhattisgarh to waive off farm loans and we did it. We have a record of not making promises in the air. We give guarantees," he asserted.

In Assam, Congress has promoted its campaign of 'five guarantees'.

"They are five lakh government jobs to youths in five years, up to 200 units of free electricity per household, Rs 365 daily wage to tea workers and Rs 2,000 per month to housewives besides the assurance not to implement the CAA in the state," he said.

Asked by students about rising unemployment and Congress' plans to tackle it, Rahul said that the priority of the party if voted to power will be to first fill up vacant posts and focus on sectors like health and education for creating new jobs.

When a student questioned him about the privatisation of education, he said that it is a "big problem" created by the BJP.

"Education should not be commercialised as it is a fundamental right. We are against the commercialisation of education," Gandhi said, adding, "There are certain places for privatisation, but not in education and health where the public sector has a role. We are fighting against BJP on this."

The biggest sale is taking place in the agricultural sector and its privatisation is being done through the three farm laws, he claimed.

To another question on why protesting students are being sent to jail, Rahul said "The rulers are scared of the confidence of the youth. They are scared that if more become confident they cannot control. So the youth are sent to jail".

When another student said that Modi does not visit Assam during floods but only during elections, the Congress leader quipped, "What can you give him during floods? So why will he visit you? But now you can give him votes, so he is visiting you. You can ensure that he does not come at all and stays at home by your vote. You have to save India's democracy as you are the future of democracy. More youths should enter politics and actively participate in fighting against the wrongs," he added.

Himanta Biswa Sarma files nomination for polls

Sarma, who is contesting the Assembly polls from the Jalukbari seat, filed his nomination on Friday. He was accompanied by his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and son Nandil.

Women in colourful attire were performed the Bihu dance on the two-kilometre stretch that the rally covered in a span of three hours.

Earlier in the day, Sarma and his wife had offered prayers at the Kamakhya temple.

The state finance minister, after filing his nomination, told reporters that the election results will determine the course of Assam's development, its future.

Seeking peoples blessings, he exuded confidence that the BJP-AGP-UPPL combine will win the Assembly polls. Asked about his thoughts on opposition Grand Alliance, the minister, refusing to say much, wished them well.

He also skirted questions about the BJPs chief ministerial face in Assam.

Sarma is contesting from Jalukbari for the fifth consecutive term. He had won the seat in 2016 by a margin of over 85,000 votes.

With inputs from PTI

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