Tezpur: Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Tuesday asserted that her party, if voted to power in Assam, will bring a new law to “nullify” the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state.
Gandhi, during a rally in Tezpur, launched the ‘Five Guarantees’ campaign, and said the Congress, if given a chance to form government in the state, will dole out Rs 2,000 every month to homemakers as ‘Grihini Samman’, and provide free electricity up to 200 units to all households.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary, who was in poll-bound Assam on a two-day visit, also claimed that her party will hike daily wages of tea garden workers to Rs 365 from the existing Rs 167, and provide five lakh government jobs to youth in the next five years.
“People of Assam were cheated by a party (BJP) five years ago that promised them 25 lakh jobs but gave them CAA instead. Our party isn’t making empty promises but undertaking five guarantees. This election is about trust, it is a fight to save the identity of the state and its people,” the Congress leader, who sported the traditional ‘gamocha’ around her neck which had the letters ‘CAA’ crossed out on it, said.
She further stated that Congress leaders and workers toured the length and breadth of the state, as a part of the ‘Asam Bachao Ahak’ (Lets save Assam) campaign, to find out what people really want from the government.
The party zeroed in on the “five guarantees” after a team of experts studied and analysed various aspects, and concluded that it was possible to achieve these goals, the AICC general secretary maintained.
The BJP had promised before the Lok Sabha elections that CAA will not be enacted, but changed its stance later, the Congress leader alleged.
In a veiled dig at Home Minister Amit Shah, who had chronologically explained NRC and CAA implementation before 2019 general election, she said, “Let me explain the chronology — Before the last polls, they (BJP) had promised ‘Jati-mati-bheti’ (identity, land and base), and implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. After they won, they did the opposite and enacted CAA in the Parliament.”
Clause 6 of Assam Accord seeks to provide constitutional and administrative safeguards to the culture, language, heritage and traditions of Assamese people.
BJP leaders go everywhere and talk about CAA, but they “do not have the courage” to talk about it in Assam, the feisty Congress leader contended.
Beginning her speech with ‘Joi Aai Asom’ (Hail, Mother Assam), she said that people of this land are blessed with immense natural and human resources and they are proud of their identity, but the saffron camp has failed to recognise their indigenous culture.
“This election isn’t about the Congress or the BJP. It is about Assam’s identity versus BJP-RSS ideology,” she said.
People in Assam are confused, they “fail to understand if the state has one, two or many chief ministers, as it is being run via a remote control from outside”, she insisted.
The Congress can at least give an assurance that “it will provide a strong government and there will be only one chief minister, the party general secretary said.
“Assam suffered immensely during the lockdown and subsequent floods, but none of the leaders reached out to them with help. They (BJP leaders) had come here during (last) elections and promised 25 lakh jobs. Five years have passed, and they have not been able to create even 80,000 jobs,” she said.
“Assam is like an ATM machine for the BJP, as it did not hesitate to sell off Guwahati airports to its rich friend.
The state, despite being rich in resources, has to buy many products, including fish and the traditional ‘Gamocha’ from outside”, Gandhi said.
The Adani Group has signed concession agreements with the Airports Authority of India for the management, operations and development of Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports.
Earlier in the day, during her interactions with women tea garden workers at an estate in Biswanath, she said that the BJP government does not care for the poor, and it has brought the farm laws for the benefit of a few powerful and rich industrialists.
“More than three lakh farmers are sitting on a dharna, barely four to five kilometres away from where the prime minister stays, over the last two months, but he has not met them yet.
“What was the problem in meeting them once, talking to them? If the farmers have a problem with the laws, it should be changed for their well-being. The policies of this government, however, are meant for the rich and powerful and not the common people,” she said.
The Congress leader, during her visit to the tea estate, also enquired about the problems faced by the garden workers. Several of them sought adequate housing and toilet facilities, and an easier mechanism to avail government benefits, as they often miss out on their daily wage while making rounds of government offices.
“It is the ‘dharma’ (duty) of the parties to fulfil the promises made by them when they visit you during elections. We have promised Rs 365 as minimum daily wage, and if the Congress forms government, the promise will be kept,” she said.
Gandhi, clad in the traditional ‘mekhla chador’ also learned the art of plucking tea leaves from the garden workers. Later, she joined them for a cup of tea, and participated in traditional ‘Jhumur’ dance.
She was presented a red-bordered white saree by the women workers on the occasion.
The AICC general secretary also visited homes of tea garden workers Tinamoni Tosa and Amrit Tosa and interacted with the family members, and spent time with their children.
In Tezpur, she offered prayers at the Mahabhairab Temple.
Elections to the 126-member Assembly in Assam will be held in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6.