GUWAHATI, Oct 16 - Principal opposition Congress party will launch a statewide agitation in November against the proposed privatisation of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL)/Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), as also against the government�s failure to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six communities of Assam, and to press for a comprehensive economic and welfare package for tea garden workers and the tea industry of the State.
Addressing a press conference here today, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Assam and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat accused the BJP and the governments headed by the ruling party at Dispur and New Delhi of working against the interests of the State.
�NRL is a profit making unit. Who will take BPCL without NRL? The Committee of Secretaries has made it abundantly clear that all five PSUs (BPCL and four others) and their subsidiaries will be included in this (privatisation). It means that NRL is very much under threat of privatisation... I think the people of Assam will not tolerate this. The Central government should be given a befitting reply because this is a step to defeat the spirit of the Assam Accord. NRL is the flag bearer of the Assam Accord and they (the government) want to dismantle it,� Rawat said.
BPCL, a Government of India PSU, has a stake of 61.65 per cent in NRL.
Rawat said that the Congress would organise mass protests throughout the State as well as in New Delhi in November and mark �Assam ke logon ki adhikar bachao divas� on a date to be decided upon by the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC).
�Besides the issue of NRL, we will also focus on two other issues during the agitation to highlight the BJP�s failure to fulfil its electoral promises. One is on the issue of granting ST status to six communities of Assam, including 108 sub-tribes of the tea community. And besides that, we will also call for grant of a comprehensive economic and welfare package for the tea garden workers and the tea industry. Both (tea workers and tea industry) are in danger. The Sonowal government is conspiring to dismantle the tea industry,� Rawat said.
He claimed that many prominent companies have managed to sell tea gardens in the State despite having entered into 99-year lease agreements for operation of the estates.
�How can you change the basic nomenclature of a law which has been enforced for last so many years? Ownership has changed despite 99-year lease. This is a very dubious thing,� Rawat said.
The Congress leader alleged that the BJP government has failed to hike the wages of tea garden workers and added that provisions of various labour laws have been severely diluted.
�We will first focus on these three issues and then later take up other issues like bringing back the Special Category State status and for grant of a special package for the north-eastern states,� Rawat said.
Expressing confidence about the Congress party�s prospects in the forthcoming by-polls to four Legislative Assembly constituencies of Assam, Rawat said, �These elections are very important for the forces who stand for Asamiyat (sic), for those who stand for the Assam Accord and for those who stand for the cultural, social and linguistic rights of the people of Assam and the North East. These elections are also important for the democratic forces who are for preservation of the right to dissent and who see unity in the diversity of India. We appeal to all such forces to stand with the Congress in the by-polls. This is the time to teach a lesson to the autocratic governments in Assam and Delhi. A win for Congress in these seats will be a win for Asamiyat (sic) and it will be a victory for the people of Assam, victory for the Assam Accord and victory for all those who stand for unity in diversity and for democratic values.�
Accusing the ruling BJP of trying to divide society on the issue of NRC, Rawat said that the State government has taken no steps to set up additional Foreigners Tribunals (FT) despite clear instructions from the Supreme Court.
�They (the government) are talking about 200 additional FTs. How will 200 FTs deal with 19 lakh cases? The State government is not at all serious. Our demand is that the number of FTs should be increased to 1,000 and at least to 500 to start with,� Rawat said.
He flayed the BJP and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB. �I condemn the attitude of the Central government and the BJP leaders over the way they are threatening Assam and the North East on the issue of CAB. This is not acceptable in a democracy... They need the consent of the states. The north-eastern states have valid objections. At least take their views into account. But you (BJP) want to impose something. That is creating problems,� Rawat added.
Citing the case of Dulal Chandra Paul of Sonitpur, a detention camp inmate who died at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital on Sunday on account of illness while undergoing treatment and whose family has refused to accept his body, Rawat called upon the State government to adopt a �humanitarian view� with regard to camp inmates and D-voters.