GUWAHATI, April 5 � Former Union minister and top BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, the most prominent Muslim face of the party, today said that the Congress has been deliberately instilling a sense of fear in the Muslim community to keep them away from the BJP and urged the community to join the party in a big way, saying the minority community would be treated with honour and dignity by his party.
Speaking to this newspaper in an exclusive interview here today, he said: �BJP kaa dar dikha ke Congress Musalmano ko BJP se door rakhne chahte hai,� (The Congress tries to keep Muslims away from the BJP by portraying a deliberate negative image of the party). He said the Muslims have joined the BJP in a big way in Bihar and in other BJP � ruled states, and that �they are treated as equal citizens and not as a vote bank in these places�.
Terming Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi as the �Laloo of Assam� Hussain repeated the BJP tirade against the Congress regime in the state, saying that in the past ten years of Congress rule in Assam, the state has not achieved any human development index. �The largesse-based economy that Gogoi is building is making the people unproductive and are being forced to live life on government doles. The different government schemes which give people money for free ultimately cripple a society. This is what the Congress wants: a state with zombie citizens.�
Stating that the economy of Assam has not developed one bit, he pointed to the huge rise in the number of vehicles in the city, compared to that in the rest of the state. �If there had been a real development of the economy, people would have bought cars throughout the state. If twenty five cars are bought in Guwahati each day, elsewhere in Assam, it is just one or two cars a day on an average, and that too in the major towns like Jorhat and Dibrugarh. This is very lop sided. Today we have people in Assam who looks forward to free money, free medicine, free mosquito nets, free rice, free houses�these do not reflect a healthy economy,� he said. He stressed that the people at large would have to be provided gainful employment, good healthcare and good education, rather than be forced to live off government subsidies.
Hussain said that the hub for east and southeast Asia from India should naturally be Guwahati. He added that the BJP would do all it can towards this end. He also pointed out to the major road development initiative of the then NDA government at the Centre, and claimed that better roads and highways are a major criteria for economic development.
Asked about the response he received at his four election meetings in Nagaon district earlier today, Hussain said his call has been received well. �I told our Muslim brothers that they need to trust me and have faith in me to allay fears that the BJP is their enemy. The lot of the minorities in Assam has deteriorated under ten years of Congress rule. This will improve drastically if the BJP is voted to power,� he said he promised the people at his election rallies.
Hussain was asked if the AIUDF could be a better choice for the minority population, if the Congress has indeed failed them, he said: �The AIUDF has limited options for delivering welfare to the minorities, whereas the BJP is in a better position to go about this, and we have proved this wherever our party is in power.�