JORHAT, April 8 - Former three-time Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi has thrown down a challenge to his successor Sarbananda Sonowal of having a debate with him on the issue of development.
Addressing media-persons at the Jorhat Press Club, Gogoi who seemed to irked by Sonowal�s remark yesterday at two poll rallies here � where Sonowal alleged that the Gogoi-led Government in the State and other previous Congress Governments, both at the Centre and in Assam, did precious little in terms development � gave a list of development works in Jorhat district as well as the State.
The former Chief Minister stated that the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, National Institute of Design, Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat Science Centre and Planetarium, Chaolung Siu-Ka-Pha Samannay Kshetra, Rajiv Gandhi Cooperative University, Rajiv Gandhi Petroleum Institute (Sivasagar), BCPL, Dibrugarh were established during Congress rule.
The maximum amount of work of Dhola-Sadiya bridge and Bogibeel were carried out during Congress period, Gogoi claimed.
�The seat from where Sonowal now governs the State � New Secretariat building � and the house where he resides (Brahmaputra Guest house) have all been built during my tenures,� Gogoi stated.
Gogoi further questioned Sonowal on the status of the Jorhat-Majuli-Lakhimpur bridge, the foundation stone of which was laid with lot of hype by the Union Road Transport and Highways, Ganga Rejuvenation and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari three years ago on the eve of Assembly polls.
Responding to Sonowal targeting former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who represented Assam for more than two decades but, �hardly did anything�, the former Chief Minister said all big projects referred earlier were undertaken by him (Singh).
�I invite Sonowal to a debate on the issue of development with me.......will expose his lies then,� Gogoi said.
He also flayed Prime minister Narendra Modi for �failing� to fulfill his pre-poll promises.
�He (Modi) talks more, works less. His schemes, Make in India, Startups, Digital India, Demonetisation are all failures and GST implementation was flawed,� Gogoi alleged.
The veteran Congress leader also took a dig at the BJP for trying to �bring in and settle Hindu Bangladeshis�.
�They (BJP) criticise us for being soft on illegal migrants but it is during our period (during UPA Government tenure) that more than 80 per cent of fencing along Indo-Bangladesh border was done,� he said.
Terming Sonowal a puppet of Modi, Gogoi said that bringing in CAB has made NRC a meaningless exercise.
He lambasted the current Sonowal-led Government for not increasing the wages of tea garden workers to Rs 350 as had been reportedly proposed by the Wage Board.
He alleged that the Sonowal government came under pressure from the tea planters� lobby not to hike the wages. Gogoi asked the Government to come clean on the matter.
Gogoi also said that touching the feet of elders and teachers was not wrong, but Sonowal who earlier bowed down and touched the feet of the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other Central leaders, was not part of Assamese culture.
BJP refutal: Meanwhile, State spokesperson Jayanta Malla Baruah, who is also the ATDC Chairman, later convening a press conference in a hotel in Jorhat todayrefuted Gogoi�s charges against Sonowal and the BJP governments.
Baruah, on the other hand, questioned Gogoi on how much his (Gogoi) government could increase daily wages of tea workers during the 15 years of the Congress rule in the State.
Baruah said that in the past three years of Sonowal government, the wage had been increased by Rs 30.
Baruah also shot back at Gogoi�s criticism of Sonowal with regards to touching of feet of senior party leaders by him (Sonowal) by terming the said act being very much a part of Indian culture.
�Not touching feet is prevalent in Arabian culture which Gogoi may be subscribing to,� Baruah observed.