Rahul kicks off Cong poll campaign in Assam; slams BJP over Padma list



Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday alleged that the BJP-led Narendra Modi government “insulted” former three-time Assam chief minister, late Tarun Gogoi, as well as Assam, by having a bureaucrat from the Prime Minister’s Office in the list of the 10 Padma Bhushan awardees from across the country.

“I have been told that there was a bureaucrat from the Prime Minister’s Office in the list of the Padma Bhushan awardees. This is an insult to the former Assam chief minister who had integrated Assam and devoted his entire life to protect the state. It is an insult to Assam,” Gandhi said while kicking off the Opposition party’s electoral campaign at Sivasagar in Upper Assam on Sunday.

Gogoi, the longest serving Assam chief minister, was posthumously honoured with the Padma Bhushan for his “exceptional and distinguished service in the field of public affairs”.

The veteran Congress leader passed away on November 23 last year at the age of 86, after battling post-COVID health complications.

“On the one hand, you have (in the list of Padma Bhushan awardees) a leader who has sacrificed his entire life for Assam and protecting its integrity, while on the other hand, you have a bureaucrat from the PMO who has only worked for the Prime Minister. I felt sad…felt this is not right,” he said, during his first rally for the April Assembly elections in the state at Boarding playground, which is close to a historic venue from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the ruling BJP’s poll campaign last month.

Launching the poll campaign, the Congress leader further attacked the ruling party on a number of issues, including the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), while pledging to protect the Assam Accord, provide jobs to youths and work out solutions to illegal influx, a burning problem of the state.

“We will defend and protect the Assam Accord and not budge an inch from our commitment. We will not allow CAA to be implemented. Illegal immigration is an issue…but will be resolved. But we cannot allow the state to disintegrate under BJP….Assam and India will stand to lose then …not the BJP and RSS,” Gandhi said.

Wooing the tea community in Assam, the Congress leader said that the party, if it came to power, would increase the daily wage of tea garden workers by about Rs 200 from the current amount.

At present, the tea garden workers in the Brahmaputra Valley are paid a daily wage of Rs 167 while the tea garden workers in Barak Valley are getting a wage of Rs 145 per day.

Further hitting out at the initiatives of demonetisation, GST and the measures taken against COVID by the Modi-led BJP government, Gandhi accused the incumbent government of taking away money from small businessmen and farmers.

(Edited by Christopher Gatphoh)

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