GUWAHATI, March 28 - The NDA government’s alleged attempt to subvert autonomy of institutions, BJP’s attempt to create polarization in society, Assam Accord implementation, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, flood and erosion problem of the State and the Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme will be among the major election issues for the Congress party in Assam during the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Senior Congress leaders told this newspaper that the party will fight the coming elections by highlighting both national as well as State-specific issues and offer an ‘alternative vision’ for the future of the country.
“The first issue on the national perspective for us will be the five years of ‘Modi raj’. During its term in office, the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attacked various democratic institutions and tried to subvert the autonomy of such institutions, including the RBI, the Election Commission and the Supreme Court. Secondly, the NDA government failed to do anything for uplift of the downtrodden masses of India. Instead, Modi worked only for the benefit of his ‘friends’ from the big corporate houses. We will raise these points in a major way during our campaign,” Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) general secretary Apurba Bhattacharya told The Assam Tribune.
“Congress will present an alternative vision for India. Our party president Rahul Gandhi has already spoken of three things which we are going to implement if we win the Lok Sabha polls. First is the Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme, which has the potential to rescue crores of our countrymen from poverty. Secondly, we will bring in a Uniform GST. And thirdly, the Congress party is committed to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies,” he added.
Bhattacharya said a number of Assam-specific issues will also figure prominently in Congress party’s agenda for the poll campaign.
“Here our main issue will be the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit. Besides, we will also tell the electorate that Congress is committed to dump the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill once we come to power, whatever the cost may be. At the same time, our party will also reiterate our commitment to providing employment avenues to the unemployed, shelter to the homeless and food to the hungry,” said Bhattacharya.
APCC secretary and spokesperson Rituparna Konwar said the Opposition party will highlight the alleged ‘discrimination’ by the NDA government against Assam.
“The BJP-led government removed the Special Category State status to Assam and also discontinued the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP). Our party has promised to bring back both if we come back to power at the Centre. BJP has so far failed to fulfil any of its promises. It took no steps to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the six communities of Assam. Modi promised to create two crore jobs annually. What we got in reality was 72,000 job cuts on a daily basis across the country, something which the government’s own figures cite,” Konwar said.
He accused the government of failing to act on burning problems faced by Assam, including flood and land erosion, unemployment, lack of industrialisation and development of infrastructure.
“NDA’s term in office has been one of broken promises and disappointments. Demonetisation put India’s economy back by many years and brought destitution and misery to crores of Indians. Now the BJP, losing its support base everywhere, is desperately trying to create polarization in the society for the sake of electoral gains. In contrast, the Congress party will go to the voters offering an alternative path for real development over the next five years,” Konwar added.
Congress is contesting from all 14 Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam in the coming general elections. The party had managed to win from only three seats in Assam in the last parliamentary polls in 2014. This time, the Congress party is targeting to win 11 seats of the State.