R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, March 10: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- led alliance is confident of retaining power as it managed to win the confidence of cross sections of people because of its performance in the fields of development and drive against corruption, poachers and extremists, said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. However, he refused to be drawn into the controversy regarding the Chief Ministerial candidate of the party after the ensuing polls.
In an interview with The Assam Tribune today, Sonowal asserted that the performance of the BJP- led Government in the last five years improved the credibility of the alliance. He pointed out that the indigenous people cannot protect their identity without land rights and that is why providing land patta was a priority area for the Government. He said that for the first time in decades, a land survey was carried out in the State and land patta was given to 3.65 lakh people. No Government in the past managed to give land patta to so many people in five years, he added. He also said that the process of giving land patta to small tea growers has also started and so far, around 30,000 small tea growers received land patta. However, it is a continuous process and it would take some time to provide patta to all the small tea growers.
Commenting on the grand alliance headed by the Congress, Sonowal said that the Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) always have secret understanding and now they have formally formed an alliance. He alleged that the Congress and the AIUDF always patronized people who do not respect “the nation, culture and civilization of the people of Assam.”
He pointed out during years of Congress rule, no step was taken to evict the encroachers from the land of the Sattras including the Batadrava Sattra, the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardeva. However, immediately after coming to power, the BJP- led Government took effective steps not only to evict the encroachers from the Sattra land but also from Kaziranga National Park, which brought down poaching to a large extent. “Some people try to claim that the BJP is a communal party. But they should remember that not a single incident of communal disturbance took place in Assam during the last five years and almost all the communal clashes witnessed by the State took place during Congress rule,” he added.
Sonowal described the newly formed political parties –Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal as “new born babies” and said that the parties would not affect the electoral prospects of the BJP and its allies.
Sonowal refused to comment on the controversy regarding the Chief Ministerial candidate of the BJP and said that it is the prerogative of the parliamentary board of the BJP to decide the Chief Ministerial candidate. “We are not discussing the issue here and all of us working as a team to ensure that the BJP- led alliance Government retains power,” he said.
On the breaking of ties with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Sonowal said that the question should be asked to the leaders of the BPF. He said that the BJP formed an alliance with the UPPL only in the BTC and the BPF leaders decided to break the alliance in the State level. However, three Ministers of the BPF are still functioning though the BPF has joined the Congress- led alliance, he said.
On the criticism faced by the BJP over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, Sonowal said that it would not affect the identity of the indigenous people of the State. He said that some people had claimed that two crore Bangladeshi nationals would come to Assam if the CAA was passed. But their claim proved to be a false propaganda. Only the people who are living here for decades will get citizenship under the Act, that too after thorough scrutiny. The CAA would not be a political issue in the ensuing polls and some leaders of the anti-CAA movement have already joined the BJP. He also pointed out that the Citizenship Act was amended a number of times during the Congress rule but no one raised any hue and cry over that.
Commenting on the criticism faced by the Government for its failure to implement the report of the Committee formed to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, Sonowal said that the BJP- led Government was the first Government since 1985 to form a committee to suggest measures in this regard. “The Committee gave the Government two years to implement the report. The people should wait for two years before criticizing the Government,” he added.