Union minister and BJP’s Chief ministerial candidate for Assam Sarbananda Sonowal has trained his guns on 15-year-old Tarun Gogoi government in the state claiming that the Assamese population has lost its faith in the Congress government.
In an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Sonowal termed the upcoming Assembly polls as the moment of change stressing that rising population of the Bangladeshi migrants is the biggest concern. The BJP CM candidate has squarely blamed the Gogoi government for treating migrants as a mere vote bank. He has also dismissed the reports of internal revolts within the BJP camp over alliance with Assam Gana Parishad (AGP).
On being asked whether he felt threatened with former Congress lieutenant Himanta Biswa Sarma now being on his side, Sonowal said he was now a loyal foot soldier of the BJP and was working for the interest of the party. He even dismissed Assam Democratic United Front’s claim that the party will be a kingmaker calling it a mere bluff.
Here are the excerpts of the interview:
Credit with seven out of 14 Lok Sabha in 2014 and even reducing the Congress to an all-time low of three seats, are you hopeful of repeating the 2014 magic?
The NDA is targeting 84 seats and our focus will be on visible growth and development. Congress party made false promises and now people of Assam has lost faith in Tarun Gogoi. BJP is the true alternative in Assam today.
There were accusations that Centre has denied the special category status to Assam and has even cut down the funds?
Centre has been benevolent towards Assam and Prime Minister Modi is fulfilling the promises. We are purely going by the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and states are getting more money than what they were getting during UPA’s tenure.
Illegal migration of Bangladeshis is a biggest problem before Assam. How will you tackle it?
Congress has been passive to illegal migration. It has also been indulgent to smuggling. Ever since Modi government has come to power, we have sealed the borders permanently. Migrants are vote bank for the Congress party.
There is also a charge that through the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Assam lot many acres of land. Is that not a U-turn of what PM had promised during Lok Sabha polls?
India gained from enclaves solution after the implementation of LBA. Assam has not lost even an inch. It is misreported by the media.
Why are you selective about Hindu Bangladeshi migrants?
Hindu migrants come due to the fear of persecution. Gogoi government has been a failure. Local people are reduced to minority. Our coalition is working on a common agenda and security of land on is high on our agenda.
How are you wooing the Muslim population? It is about 34% population which is not your dominant voter base?
Assamese Muslims with the BJP. I can assure you that large number of Muslims are with us.
Who is bigger rival for you …Congress or AUDF?
Both are rivals and both are polarising the people. BJP should not be blamed for it.
Don’t you feel threatened by Hemanta Biswa Sarma, knowing that he also has Chief Ministerial ambition?
No. He is a loyal foot soldier of the BJP. He has left Congress and is working for the victory of BJP.
Many in BJP were not happy with your alliance with AGP…also both your and the AGP’s stand are contrary as far as migrant issue is concerned?
There were teething troubles which are over now. We are working under a common minimum program. We will reach impenetrable pockets of Assam with the help of AGP and BPF.
(Watch the entire interview at 1pm and 5.30 pm on Friday, only on RSTV)