GUWAHATI, April 16 - In what could very well generate a fresh controversy in the State after polling for the Assembly election has ended, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) �sponsored� the Assam Agitation and former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and former Union Minister Arun Shourie guided the agitation.
�Who sponsored the Assam Agitation? RSS. Who guided it? Vajpayee and Shourie,� Gogoi said during a press conference at Rajiv Bhawan.
He added that the agitation was originally intended against all �outsiders� but the influence of the RSS ensured that its direction was changed and it was made an anti-foreigner struggle.
Asked if the All Assam Students� Union received funds from the RSS during the agitation period, Gogoi said, �Yes... All funds were given by RSS.�
He added that the RSS tried to exploit the sentiments of the Assamese people for the sake of power.
Gogoi said that the RSS provided food, refreshments and other help to the agitationists when they used to go out into the streets to protest during those days.
He, however, clarified that the present leadership of AASU is not influenced by the RSS. �I appreciate the present AASU leadership. I am happy that the AASU leadership has now been categorical in asserting that 1971 remains the cut-off year (for identification and deportation of illegal immigrants),� Gogoi said.
The Chief Minister admitted that BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma�s comments calling for 1951 to be fixed as the base year for identification and deportation of immigrants has, in fact, helped the Congress during the second phase of Assembly polls in consolidating its base.
�The 1971 date has been settled after due deliberations. How can we �unsettle� something which the government has already settled with AASU and is now part of the Assam Accord? We cannot reopen old wounds,� he said.
Gogoi said that Sarma has his own agenda �which has been exposed. He wants to exploit the sentiments of the people by talking about the year 1951.�
He said the entire country is now being run by the RSS. �Under whose directions is Modi working? Himanta is a small fry,� Gogoi said.
�However, we will fight against all divisive forces, whether we are in power or out of power. We could have allied with AIUDF but we did not,� said the Chief Minister, adding that Congress is against both majoritarian communalism and minority communalism.
In reply to a query about Congress party�s prospects in the elections, Gogoi said, �Whatever the verdict, we will fulfil our responsibilities. We will fulfil whatever responsibility is given by the people. Both the government and the opposition have responsibilities. We also have had the experience of sitting in the opposition earlier.�
Asked if his statement means that the Congress� prospects of returning to power for a fourth consecutive term in Assam are slim, he said, �I am still confident that we will not win less than 65 seats. I said that earlier and I am saying it now.�
He, however, refused to give a direct reply when asked if the Congress will not join hands with the AIUDF in case of a hung Assembly.
Gogoi also called upon the Centre to release funds for flood prevention projects in the State and said he will take up the issue with New Delhi.
�If the funds are not released now, we will not be able to take up work in the ground and the situation will only worsen in the monsoon season. Whichever party may form the government, developmental activities have to go on,� he said.
He also took exception to the Centre�s decision to remove a major chunk of Central forces from Assam following the completion of voting and said adequate forces, in the range of 120-130 companies, should remain in the State to deal with any untoward incidents.
Lambasting the BJP-led Union government, Gogoi said that even Maharashtra, ruled by the NDA, has not received adequate Central assistance despite the severe drought in that State.
He also castigated the NDA government for not acting against bank defaulters and said this shows the �pro-corporate attitude� of the BJP.