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State Govt to seek legal opinion

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 1 - The State Government will explore the option of approaching the courts regarding the issue of withdrawal of special category State status.

This was stated by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi during a press conference here today.

Asked if the State Government has finalised a plan to approach the courts or is merely planning to consult experts, Gogoi said, �I am not a legal expert. I want to approach the courts. We will consult experts. I am for it provided lawyers opine that there is a ground for that.�

He added, �why has the Centre withdrawn the special category State status? We want to know. There has to be a justification for that decision. The Centre has not tendered any reason.�

Gogoi also termed as �political gimmick� the Centre�s decision to constitute a high-powered committee to consider the demand of the six communities of Assam who are seeking Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

�It is nothing but a political gimmick. There is a limit to gimmicky. There have been so many discussions on the issue during last two years and only now, when Assembly polls are to be announced, has the Centre decided to constitute a committee to fix the modalities. They have given the committee three months, but once the elections are over, they will forget it,� he said.

Lambasting the Centre over the General Budget, Gogoi said that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not mention the name of Assam even once in his Budget speech.

�In the current Budget, Assam has been allocated Rs 18,938 crore as share in Central taxes against Rs 22,131 crore which was recommended by the 14th Finance Commission, resulting in a loss of Rs 3,193 crore. Last year (2015-16), Assam lost Rs 5,588 crore,� he said.

He added, �As regards Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), the Union Budget has provided only an amount of Rs 700 crore during 2016-17 as against Rs 970 crore provided in 2015-16. This is 28 per cent lesser than the preceding year. Further, unlike previous years, the BTC package under NLCPR was done away with in the current Union Budget and made a separate provision under Central assistance to the State Plan as special package to BTC for an amount of Rs 100 crore.�

Asked about non-materialisation of the expected Rs 1,000 crore special package for BTC, Gogoi said that BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary will now realise the truth.

�Modi comes and talks big and gives only Rs 100 crore. It is an insult to the people of BTC. I could have given more� It is good that he (Mohilary) has been cheated,� Gogoi quipped.

He, however, categorically stated that there is no question of the Congress renewing its old alliance with the BPF.

Gogoi was also dismissive about any effect of a BJP-AGP alliance. �Sarbananda Sonowal, as the BJP�s chief ministerial candidate, should have been able to persuade his own Government to increase allocation for Assam in the Budget,� Gogoi said.

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