* Centre will hold State government accountable for funds spent, asserts PM
* ‘Second green revolution should start from Assam, NE can be country’s organic capital’
* PM stresses on BTAD development, skirts fincial package and statehood issues
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KOKRAJHAR/GUWAHATI, Jan 19: Addressing massive rallies at Kokrajhar and Khapara in Guwahati on Tuesday to kick-start the BJP campaign for the 2016 assembly elections, Prime Minister rendra Modi came out with all guns blazing at the Congress for its "15 years of non-performance" in the State, while asserting that the Centre will hold states to account "for every rupee spent".
Addressing a mega rally at Bodofa Nwgwr, Kokrajhar after landing there on Tuesday noon, Modi promised that no stone would be left unturned to develop Assam’s Bodo-inhabited lands, while avoiding any mention of the Bodoland statehood issue and Rs 1,000 crore package demand for the Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD).
The rally was organised by Hagrama Mohilary’s Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) which recently sealed an electoral alliance with the BJP. The BPF was a partner of the ruling Congress in Assam since its inception in 2003 but severed ties with the Congress in 2014.
Stating that backward BTAD region will be developed like any other part of the country, the Prime Minister said he has a three-point programme — “development, development and development”.
The Prime Minister announced that Karbis of the plains will be granted the Scheduled Tribes (ST) status, while the Bodo Kachari community of hill areas like Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao district will get ST status soon.
He also announced that the Central Institute of Technology (CIT), Kokrajhar, will be upgraded to a Deemed University within a year and more academic and administrative autonomy would be granted to the institute.
“I was told that there is an airport here, which has not been in use for a long time. I assure you that as soon as the State government settles the issue of giving land for the airport, the Rupsi airport will be opened for the Indian Air Force as well as for the common people,” Modi said.
Modi also targetted the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government at the Centre and the ruling Congress government in Assam.
“I was under the impression there is no problem in Assam. Assam is the State from where the Prime Minister was elected for 10 years. The Congress has ruled the State for the last 15 years,” Modi said without ming Dr Manmohan Singh, adding, “But I am shocked to see the problems and issues here. So what has the Prime Minister, who was elected from the State for 10 years, done?”
“They (the Congress) have not been able to do anything in last 15 years and they (the Congress) want me to do everything in 15 months time. You tell me if it is justified?” he asked.
“You have seen their 15 years of rule and the 15 months of BJP government in power. We have been working each of the minutes in these 15 months for the betterment of the country,” the Prime Minister said.
Taking a dig at recent Congress campaigns against him, Modi said: “Delhi has started asking for accounts of each penny given to the states. I was told when the Centre releases Rs 1, only 15 paise of it reaches the villages.”
“So where does the money go? The Centre has started asking for the accounts. Thus, many do not like me these days,” he said, while asserting, “I am not bothered if people do not like me but I am bothered about my country’s progress and development and I work to achieve that.”
In his 40-minute speech, Modi promised his government will pump in money for the development of BTAD more than what its people expected. “The Centre will release enough funds for Assam but its government must submit utilization certificate as it is the people’s money. The DoNER ministry was set up during the tenure of the then Prime Minister Atul Behari Vajpayee as he believed that the people of the Northeastern region should not have to go to New Delhi to place their genuine demands,” he said
BPF president Hagrama Mohilary, State BJP president Sarbanda Sonowal and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma also spoke at the meeting. It was attended by DoNER Minister Jitender Singh, Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary, BTC Deputy Chief Kampa Borgoyary along with a host of senior BPF and BJP leaders.
After reaching Khapara in Guwahati in the afternoon, Modi continued with his scathing attack on the Congress government. He began by reciting a few lines from a poem by Ambikagiri Raichaudhury while commenting that though he had spoken at this venue earlier, he had not witnessed such a huge turnout.
“Assam has an abundance of everything — tural resources, hydropower, youth power — yet it continues to lag behind. The Congress is asking for my performance sheet in the last 15 months, but what about their performance sheet in the last 15 years?” he asked.
Mentioning the rich land and water resources of Assam, the Prime Minister said that modern agri-technology should be put in the hands of farmers in the State so that “the Second Green Revolution starts from Assam.” He said: “I have a dream that in 2022, when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day, the income of farmers will more than double.”
Referring to the abundant water resources in the State, he said, “Assam has enough hydro potential to light up the entire country, but it does not even have 24-hours electricity.”
Modi said the Central government is also working on extending the Kanchanjunga Express to the Barak Valley to boost rail connectivity in the region.
Calling for development of the Northeast on par with the rest of the country, the Prime Minister pointed out that only development will ensure that the youth of this region do not have to “leave their homes in search of jobs”. Praising Sikkim’s achievement in becoming the first organic state in the country, Modi said the entire Northeast region can become India’s “organic capital”.
A huge gathering attended the Khapara rally, breaking out in frequent applause during the Prime Minister’s 35-minute speech. The Assam BJP pulled out all stops to bring supporters to the rally from all over the State, with as many as nine trains and numerous vehicles used for the purpose.
The Prime Minister later interacted with students and faculty members at Guwahati IIT. He also held a meeting with representatives of various organisations at the LGBI airport at Borjhar before departing for New Delhi in the evening.
The All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union had given a 48-hour Assam bandh call from Monday morning to protest the Centre’s failure to grant Scheduled Tribes status to six communities in Assam, including the Koch Rajbongshis.
What Modi skipped!
* Bangladeshi Influx:
During his campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, rendra Modi had sounded a warning that 'all Bangladeshi immigrants will have to pack their baggage and leave India after May 17, 2014'. However, not a single Bangladeshi immigrant has been deported so far. On Tuesday while addressing two mega rallies in Kokrajhar and Guwahati, Prime Minister Modi skipped the key issue of Bangladeshi influx altogether.
* Assam Accord/Border Sealing:
The Prime Minister also made no mention of implementation of Assam Accord. It may be mentioned that the Union Home Ministry has a key role to play in implementation of Assam Accord, as it is the nodal ministry of the historic accord.
* Flood & Erosion:
Since the Fifties, Assam has been the worst sufferer of flood and erosion damage. Various organisations of the State as well as political parties have been urging the Centre to declare the flood problem of the State as a tiol problem. But this perennial problem did not find any mention in the Prime Minister's fiery speeches at Kokrajhar and Guwahati.
"I was under the impression there is no problem in Assam. Assam is the state from where the Prime Minister was elected for 10 years. The Congress has ruled the state for the last 15 years. But I am shocked to see the problems and issues here."
"They (the Congress) have not been able to do anything in last 15 years and they (the Congress) want me to do everything in 15 months time. You tell me if it is justified?"
"Actually by asking us what we have achieved in 15 months, they (the Congress) are admitting that they have a document of long list of failure."
"You have seen their 15 years of rule and the 15 months of BJP government in power. We have been working each of the minutes in these 15 months for the betterment of the country."
"I was told when the Centre releases Re 1, only 15 paise of it reaches to the villages. So where does the money go? Looting of people's money has to stop."
"Delhi now asks state governments for accounts. They have to account for every rupee spent. Thus, many do not like me these days."
"I am not bothered if people do not like me but I am bothered about my country's progress and development and I work to achieve that."