April 6: From Nagaon to Dhubri to Mangaldoi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today chanted the minority mantra everywhere in a final attempt to retain the party’s hold on a community whose votes could ultimately decide who will hold the reins at Dispur.
If the focus of the first leg of her campaign in Assam was the “welfare” of the tea tribes and minorities, Sonia’s speeches during the second leg revolved around the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act and the steps taken by Delhi and Dispur to protect the minorities from harassment ever since the Supreme Court struck down the legislation.
“IMDT kanoon ke radd hone ke baad hamare rajya sarkar ne kisike saath jyaadti nahin hone di. Aur hamare UPA sarkar ne Foreigners Tribunal Order is tarike se sansudhit kiya hain ki kisi bhi nagarik ke saath annyay nahin hoga (After the IM(DT) Act was scrapped, our state government ensured that no one was harassed. And our UPA government amended the Foreigners Act in such a manner that no injustice is meted out to genuine citizens),” Sonia told a mammoth gathering at Nehrubali in Nagaon.
In Dhubri, she even used Urdu to drive home her point, referring to the minority community as akaliat.
“Congress aur akaliat ka purana sampark hai (The Congress and the minorities share an old relationship). This relationship is not just to seek votes. This is a lifelong relationship. So the Congress will never tolerate harassment of minorities in the name of detection and deportation of illegal infiltrators from Assam,” the Congress chief said.
Heavy rain greeted Sonia when her helicopter landed at Dhula in Mangaldoi. But the enthusiasm of Congress supporters who braved the shower for a glimpse of their leader more than made up for the wet weather. When she did appear, the welcome was thunderous.
Sonia repeated the Congress’ “commitment” to ensure socio-economic development of the minorities and informed that a minority cell had been formed to look into the grievances of the community in Assam.
In a scathing attack on the erstwhile AGP-led government, the Congress chief said the regional party twice formed governments in the past two decades only to ruin the state.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi and several other Congress leaders accompanied Sonia on her whirlwind tour. Gogoi targeted the AGP and the newly formed Assam United Democratic Front.
“Parties like AGP, BJP and AUDF are attempting to divide people in the name of language and religion,” he said.
(From Daulat Rahman in Mangaldoi and our correspondents in Nagaon and Dhubri)