GUWAHATI: Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for laying the foundation stone of the Phulbari-Dhubri Bridge, AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) president Badruddin Ajmal has said that it is the greatest achievement in his stint as a parliamentarian.
Talking to The Sentinel, Ajmal said, "I have been demanding the construction of this bridge since 2009. Since then, I've sent as many as 38 written communications to the Union Ministers concerned in this regard. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal too has taken up the matter. The bridge will be a reality. I thank the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister for this."
On the minorities in Assam, Ajmal said, "The word 'doubtful' to denote a citizen is quite distasteful. A person can be either an 'Indian' or a 'foreigner', but he/she shouldn't be tagged as a 'doubtful citizen'. The 'minorities' in the State are viewed with suspicion of being 'doubtful citizens'. It is not at all judicious to doubt a person because of his/her title.
"We also don't want even a single Bangladeshi to stay illegally in Assam. We're also ready to extend all help to the government in the detection and deportation of the Bangladeshis staying illegally in the State, if the government seeks so. For God's sake, the politics on 'doubtful citizens' should be stopped once and for all!"
On policy matters, Ajmal said, "We're going to oppose the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) during the Assembly election. We're in favour of the NRC (National Register of Citizens) that has been updated. Even former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Ranjan Gogoi said recently that the NRC was done in a proper way.
"When the draft NRC was published, both Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah and State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma welcomed it. However, they took a U-turn and decided not to accept the citizens' document when the final NRC was published. What's the reason behind keeping a section on people on tenterhooks by keeping alive the issue of NRC?
"A few BJP leaders of the State throw tantrums comparing me with Mughals, Babar and the likes. I, however, praise the Chief Minister and the State BJP president for not using anything filthy against me in public meetings."
Ajmal also said that the focus of the AIUDF is on girls' education, higher education for youths and employment generation. "We need to find ways and means to provide employment opportunities for the youths. We need to see as to how the Health sector in the State can be further developed. The government has certainly done a few good works that need appreciation," he said.
On seat-sharing with its ally — the Congress — Ajmal said, "It's not going to be a problem for us. All my meetings with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were very cordial. In the greater interest of the alliance, both the parties should be ready to sacrifice a few constituencies."
Stating that he purchased land for setting up a private university in Dhubri, Ajmal added that he is yet to get approval for it from the UGC (University Grant Commission). "Rs 8 crore has to be deposited to the UGC for the approval. I'm not capable of paying such a big amount," he added.