CM bats for D-voters, ridicules BJP-AGP tie-up

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, March 7: Citing a recent Supreme Court ruling, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today claimed that D-voters can exercise their franchise in the forthcoming assembly elections if they can prove their citizenship and convince the authorities concerned.

Producing a copy of the ruling delivered by a division bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali riman, Gogoi also said that even if D-voters are allowed to cast their votes, their cases at the Foreigners Tribuls will go on.

There are 1,36,448 D-Voters in the State as per the latest electoral roll.

In 2011, the Gauhati High Court had barred D-Voters from participating in the election process. An appeal against the order was dismissed by the court later.

A special leave petition was then filed by one meeza Khatun and others at the Supreme Court.

Disposing off the petition, the SC bench said in its February 8 order: "We are not inclined to interfere with the order passed by the High Court. However, we make it clear that in case any of the voters, referred to in the order passed by the learned single judge (of Gauhati High Court), shows to the authorities concerned at the appropriate stage that he is covered by Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, he shall be permitted to participate in the election process."

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said he has asked the CID to speed up probes in the Rose Valley, Saradha and Louis Berger scams.

He also asked the Central government to prod the Central agencies investigating the cases.

Gogoi said that he has directed a CID inquiry into the Amrit Projects NE Ltd chit fund case.

Ridiculing the BJP-AGP tie-up, Gogoi said the alliance is poised to destroy regiolism in the State.

"No regiol party is espousing the cause of regiolism. In fact, the Congress is promoting regiolism more than those parties. The regiol parties are just power hungry… that is why they (the then AASU leaders) signed the accord in 1985 and not in 1980," Gogoi said, addressing a press conference here. Gogoi also questioned as to why the BJP and the AGP did not come up with a common minimum programme of the alliance before forging the tie-up.

"It is strange they forged the alliance without filizing the common minimum programme…. and they call the alliance issue-based," he quipped.

Gogoi has dared the BJP-led Central government to also file sedition charge against him as he agrees with some of the statements made by Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar.

Gogoi said Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi supported Kanhaiya Kumar's statements on freedom and sedition charge was slapped against him.

"I too agree with some of the statements made by Kanhaiya Kumar and they (BJP) should slap sedition charge against me also," he said.

"Kanhaiya Kumar has rightfully pointed out that they want freedom guaranteed under the Constitution. There can be different opinions and ideologies in democracy, and the BJP and the RSS have attacked the Constitution by restricting freedom of speech and expression, which is tantamount to curtailment of fundamental rights," said Gogoi.

"There have been lots of protests against our government in Assam also. There have been organizations which have openly criticized us and shouted slogans against us. However, we have not brought sedition charges against them. We took action against only those who indulged in violence," Gogoi said.

"I have been into politics for a long time. I was also a student leader and we too shouted slogans against the then Congress government. However, I have not seen such a government since the 1950s," Gogoi said, adding he had not seen the kind of confrontation and hatred in society which is present now.

"When AB Vajpayee government was there at the Centre, then also there were divisions but it has gone beyond limit now. The Hindus and Muslims are divided now," Gogoi said.

The veteran Congress leader, however, admitted that curtailing freedom of speech during Emergency was "not a right decision" for which the Congress had to face defeat in the subsequent elections.

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