By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Aug 2: Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs (Independent charge) Sarbanda Sonowal today said that the Centre was committed to provide ST status to the Morans, Mottucks, Tai Ahoms, Koch-Rajbongshis, Tea Tribes and the Chutias as promised by the BJP before the last Lok Sabha polls. He, however, seemed to have failed to defend himself from the slew of charges brought against him by the six ethnic groups.
The Union minister said this on the sidelines of the two-day BJP training that concluded at Silpgram at Panjabari in the city today. All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU) president Pranjal Rajkonwar and All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) president Biswajit Rai had alleged yesterday in a joint press conference: “On one hand, Sonowal claims to be backing the demand of the six communities, and on the other, he is encouraging moves to sabotage it, spearheaded by groups like the All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS).”
Questioning Sonowal’s presence at the semir organized by the All Assam Tribal Sangha in New Delhi on July 31, Rajkonwar yesterday said: “If the BJP leader continues to play politics on the issue, his party will have to face the consequences in the 2016 Assembly elections in the State.”
The semir held at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi recently opposed the move to grant ST status to the six communities, resolving to ask the government to justify its actions and guarantee the rights of the other tribes of the State. The six ethnic groups asked Sonowal what made him to attend the semir called by the AATS when he was clear of the fact the organization had all along been opposing ST status to the six ethnic groups of the State.
The ATASU and the AKRSU also charged Sonowal of trying to create a divide between indigenous communities. They also expressed their confusion over the August 6 meeting convened in New Delhi with the six ethnic groups. “No one is sure as to who has convened the meeting. Some aides of Sonowal are calling up our members and inviting them for the meeting,” they said.
When asked by reporters, the ATASU president said: “Sonowal failed to refute the charges brought against him. His statement that ‘the Centre is committed to provide ST status to the six ethnic groups’ isn’t a rebuttal to the charges brought against him.”
Sonowal seemed to be evasive on the charges like ‘trying the divide the indigenous communities, playing double standard on the issue of ST status’ etc., levelled against him by the six ethnic groups of the State.
Meanwhile, the anti-Sonowal lobby in the State BJP seems to have been in a Sonowal-bashing mode. They are out to pick holes in the Sonowal-ST status to six ethnic group episode, as though to weaken his grip on the party affairs in the State. State BJP sources said that they are not aware of who actually called the August 6 meeting with the six ethnic groups at New Delhi. “After the allegations brought against Sonowal by leaders of the six ethnic groups, we doubt who actually convened the August 6 meeting. What Sonowal has been doing will only affect the BJP.”