New Delhi: Reiterating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s commitment to take everyone along and protect the interests of indigenous people of the northeast, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the saffron camp’s target of winning 21 of the total 24 seats in the region was a possible feat.
As far as Assam was concerned, BJP candidates would win from at least 12 seats, or may be 14, a confident Sonowal said.
Regarding massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill and if that could have an effect on polling, Sonowal said, “The last panchayat election in Assam had proved that the people’s mandate was in the BJP’s favour. People believe that if the BJP comes to power, their identity would be protected. We have taken up the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord (which provides constitutional and administrative safeguards for the cultural, linguistic, social identity of Assamese people) on a priority. A high-level committee has been formed to work on the bill.”
“By updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), we are checking the total number of illegal immigrants in Assam. The process will be completed by July-end,” he said.
Slamming the Congress for not doing anything for Assam and only bringing in corrupt practices, he said, “Senior party leaders, including Tarun Gogoi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, have represented the state at the national level, but did nothing for it, unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has ensured speedy development of the region.”
In fact, the grand old party had started updating the NRC, but left it midway. It was only after the BJP took over that it is finally nearing completion, he said.
The chief minister said the Prime Minister’s effort had made the land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh possible and ensured riverine development and border fencing. Now, the Israeli technology of remote fencing was also being introduced, he added.
“We talk of development, protection and co-ordination and people have experienced that,” Sonowal said, adding senior cabinet ministers visit the region on a regular basis and schemes are being implemented on a timely basis.
While the Congress had looted Assam and only made speeches on poverty alleviation, the BJP had actually removed poverty, he added.
When asked about rifts in the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) over the bill, he said, “We have clarified that we will take every ally into confidence and reach a consensus before taking any step. Our party is committed to protect the interests of indigenous people of the northeast.”
He said in the 15 years of Congress rule, the state got only three bridges, while the BJP constructed the same number of bridges and sanctioned five more in five years.” In lower Assam, the government built 10,000km of roads, while 1,000 wooden bridges were concretised, he added.
While stating that six big institutes have been set up in the state, the chief minister said, so far, the government had recruited 60,000 people and the private sector ensured another 1 lakh jobs.
He said of the Rs 79,000 crore investment promised during last year’s summit, Rs 50,000 crore has already reached the state, adding the Union government ensured industrial growth of another Rs 40,000 crore.
Regarding non-performing MPs, he said candidates were selected by the senior leadership and everyone was committed to the party.
When probed about differences with senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sonowal said, “We are all together in the party and both of us working for the BJP’s growth.”