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If people’s interests aren’t protected, what’s the point to stay as CM: Sonowal

GUWAHATI, May 12: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has dropped a broad hint that he is honour-bound to protect the interests of the people of the State when he wondered, “Where’s the point for one to remain chief minister if the interests of the people of the State are not protected?”

Amid the tense situation prevailing in the State ever since the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) conducted hearings on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the State, the Chief Minister exchanged views with editors and senior journalists of the State on Saturday. He also sought suggestions from the media as to how the government should proceed at such a crossroads.

“Hearing by the JPC is far from being closed. It’s going on. If needed, it may visit Assam again. The people of the State have given their views before the JPC. The responsibility of giving priority to people’s views lies with the government. The government is going to do everything in a transparent way. There’s nothing to hide. Whatever we do, we’ll do it by taking all stakeholders into confidence. We’re not going to take any decision unilaterally. I feel if the interests of people are not protected, what’s the point for one to remain chief minister? I appeal to all to repose faith in the government. Since NRC update is underway, we’re taking all precautions so that no hurdle can derail it. For the smooth update of NRC, I review NRC work almost every day. The people of the State shouldn’t get panicky and should rather help create an atmosphere that’s conducive for solution to all problems peacefully,” Sonowal said.

Meanwhile, the media has made it clear before the Chief Minister that some of his ministerial colleagues, MPs and MLAs are responsible for the bafflement created on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, saying they have vitiated the ambience in the State by making comments in support of the Bill and indulging in petulant behaviour against those opposing the Bill. The editors and senior journalists have requested the Chief Minister to rein in his unruly ministers, MLAs and MPs so that the atmosphere in the State is not vitiated further. They have also suggested that Chief Minister should go in for a detailed discussion on the issue with all concerned – different organizations, intellectuals, writers and others – on the issue in question.

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Ankur Kalita