Himanta 'habitual liar', says Tarun Gogoi on cut-off year controversy

(Eds: Adding more details) Guwahati, Jan 20 (PTI) Calling Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma a 'habitual liar', Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on Monday alleged that the BJP leader had lied in the Assembly about the Assam Accord despite submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court with 1971 as the cut-off year for detecting and deporting illegal immigrants.

The former Assam chief minister accused Sarma, who was his former cabinet colleague, of 'misleading' people of the state with 'false explanations'.

Gogoi's comments on Sarma came a day after the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) had made similar allegations against the minister, saying he had lied in the Assembly by claiming there was no mention of the March 24, 1971 cut-off date in the Accord.

'Himanta Biswa Sarma lied in the Assembly that the Accord did not say anything about 1971. Lying is his habit.

What more can we expect when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi lies on everything,' Gogoi told reporters here.

Sarma is misleading the people of Assam to deviate the movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, he said.

'Himanta himself had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court on July 14, 2015 on fixing 1971 as base year for the NRC update work. It is strange that now he is saying that there is no mention of 1971 in the Accord,' Gogoi said.

He asked how were the Foreigners' Tribunals conducting trials for suspected illegal immigrants coming to Assam after March 24, 1971 if there was no mention of the cut-off date in the Assam Accord.

On January 13, Sarma had said in the Assembly that the amended Citizenship Act does not violate the Assam Accord, but is aimed at addressing the 'unresolved' issues of the pact.

'The Assam Accord didn't speak about children of those coming before 1971, so it's inconclusive,' he had said.

'The Assam Accord is not that bad. If we had read it properly, 1966 would have been the cut off year and 1967 voter list would have been the NRC. I regret that,' he had claimed citing clauses 5.1 to 5.7 of the pact.

However, Sarma did not mention Clause 5.8 of the Accord which says, 'Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law. Immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.' AASU Chief Adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya had on Sunday demanded that Sarma and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal apologise to the people for providing 'wrong explanation' about the Accord at the one-day special session of the Assembly on January 13.

A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979. It had culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Gogoi further alleged that the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was brought in to deviate attention of the people from issues affecting the country such as 'economic slowdown, job loss, price rise and failed attempts to bring back blackmoney'.

'The Constitution is at stake, democracy is at stake, there is a constant suppression of democratic rights and India is going the Fascism way. Our freedom of expression is being attacked by the government,' he said.

The three-time former chief minister said CAA was the first step towards making India a Hindu nation.

Speaking on BJP's aim to win 100 of the 126 Assembly seats in the 2021 state elections, Gogoi said, 'If they (BJP leaders) are so confident, then why are they worried about Muslims and regularly complain that a number of seats have gone to the minority community?' Sarma had on January 13 said in the Assembly that 'Ajmal (AIUDF chief) or his son or grandson will be Assam chief minister after 30 years and no-one can dispute and stop it'. PTI TR ACD ACD