ST status granted to Assam’s six ethnic groups: Nadda ‘goof-up’ in Silchar

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JP Nadda kicks off BJP’s poll campaign in Barak Valley

 HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 11: BJP national president JP Nadda in a ‘goof-up’ on Monday said that the Centre has ‘already’ granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six ethnic groups of Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutia, Matak, Moran and Tea Tribes even as the issue has been still pending for disposal before a Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted by Assam government for the preparation of modalities for granting ST status to the six communities

Nadda made the statement during BJP’s Vijay Sankalpa Samabesh at Slichar in the presence of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and several other top BJP leaders.

The GoM is yet to submit its final report to the state government, which will further forward it to Union government for final shape.

Nadda who was visiting Silchar on Monday to sound a poll bugle of the saffron party for the upcoming assembly elections, said that the Narendra Modi government has ‘already’ granted ST status to the six communities of the state.

“The issue of granting ST status to the six communities was pending for years and the previous Congress government did nothing. It’s only the BJP government that has considered the matter seriously and all these six communities were granted ST status without affecting the rights of the existing tribal population,” Nadda said in his speech.

While his statement has put the state BJP in a major embarrassment for the saffron camp in the state, others believed that Nadda’s statement was politically driven.

Reacting to Nadda’s statement, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) said it was a blatant lie and it was a humiliation to the entire people of Assam.

“It is evident from his statement that Nadda is a big liar and a deceiver. Earlier also leaders like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah deceived the people of the state by giving such false promises,” APCC spokesperson Rhituporna Konwar said in a statement here.

“We also demand a public apology from the BJP national president for his goof up in Silchar today,” Konwar said.

“When this was done? We know that the GoM is still consulting with various stakeholders and has not submitted the final report. Then it needs to be passed in the Parliament too. Nadda’s speech is misleading and only election centric,” chief coordinator of the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA), Aditya Khakhlari said.

The CCTOA has been opposing to the demands of granting ST status to the six communities

“In our submission, we have clearly told the government that we oppose the granting of ST status of the six communities. We demanded the government to rather ‘freeze’ the ST (plains) category so that no new groups can be added to the category. The government may create a new category if necessary,” Khakhlari said.

Kicking off election campaign in Barak valley, Nadda asserted that it will return to power for the second consecutive term by winning hundred plus seats in the 126-member House.

“This has been possible due to all-round development of all sections of the people and the entire state by the government of Sarbananda Sonowal with the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, he said.

Its BJP’s “double engine” government at the centre and the state that has led to proper implementation of all the schemes in the various sectors, he said.

“It is in the entire country that people have time and again reposed faith in Modi ji which has resulted in the BJP winning almost all elections at all levels”, Nadda said.

Nadda asserted that BJP has given due recognition and protection to Assam’s culture, language and identity.

He pointed out that it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had taken the demands raised during the Assam agitation against the foreigners to both inside and outside the Parliament.

It was Vajpayee who raised the slogan- “Srinagar ho ya Guwahati…..Kerala ho ya Guwahati…..apni desh, apni maati” (whether it be Srinagar or Guwahati, Kerala or Guwahati….it is our nation, our land”).

Highlighting the saffron party’s attachment with Assam, Nadda said it was the BJP government that bestowed Bharat Ratna on Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi and Bhupen Hazarika-the former when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and the latter by Modi ji, he added.

Prime Minister Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah resolved the 50-year old Bodo issue by signing Bodo Accord due to which the territorial integrity of the state remained intact and the militants were also brought to the mainstream.

More than four thousand people had lost their lives but the BJP took all the stakeholders into confidence and the Bodo Accord in January last year ensured that their demands were given due recognition along with a Rs 1500 crore as a rehabilitation package for the militants, Nadda pointed out.

In neighbouring Tripura, too, the long standing Bru-Reang standoff has been resolved with a package of Rs 600 crore and 36,000 internally displaced families rehabilitated, he added.

The Land Boundary Agreement with neighbouring Bangladesh and the subsequent land swap has also allayed the fear of the people of Assam, he said.

The subsequent smart fencing project of the border will also solve the problem of trafficking which is rampant in Assam, he added.

During the 15-year Congress rule in the state, 2155 civilians and 284 security forces personnel were killed,1200 persons were kidnapped, 51 per cent of the population had no power and 56 per cent were without toilets, he alleged.

Attacking the Congress further, Nadda said they started projects and delayed the work which escalate the cost but never completed those projects.

After the BJP government came to power in Assam in 2016, it completed the Bhupen Hazarika Bridge, Bogibeel Bridge and the Gas Cracker Project in the state, he said.

The new projects include the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Guwahati to be set up at a cost of Rs 13,500 crore with a recurring cost of Rs 2000 crore annually and “I am fortunate to sanction this when I was the Union health minister”, Nadda said.

He also claimed that the Numaligarh Refinery was given a boost and the bio-refinery upgraded, 15 new national highways were created, 21 state highways upgraded and five new bridges will be set up over the river Brahmaputra.

It was due to Modi’s initiative that 35 lakh toilets were made and Assam became Open Defecation Free, along with providing 17 lakh new gas connections, leading to women empowerment, he said.

Referring to the state government’s initiative of providing scooty and cycles to girl students, Nadda said this was “a way of showing respect to women and providing them with an oppurtunity to pursue education and get empowered”. (With PTI input)

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