New Delhi, July 24: When a top performing chief minister of the Congress takes the brickbats, the result is an uncomfortable silence.
As communal violence ruled the roost in the Bodo areas and adjoining Dhubri district, leaving 17 people dead, Tarun Gogoi, the chief minister of Assam for the third consecutive term, is cornered.
As he came under attack from the BJP and AGP in Dispur and from BJP leaders in New Delhi, there was an uneasy quiet in New Delhi, although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did speak to Gogoi today, asking him to take adequate steps to defuse the situation.
Besides that, there was little from either the government, including Union home minister P. Chidambaram or from the Congress.
The BJP seized the opportunity to lambast both Gogoi and the UPA government, terming the Assam government a complete failure and accusing it of a “communal agenda”.
“No minister has reached the area,” said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman. “Chief minister Tarun Gogoi is trying hard not to call the violence communal but we know it is so as informed by our team visiting the state today. It is a problem of illegal migrants,” she added.
Union home secretary R.K. Singh conceded it was a communal problem. “My joint secretary is going there. I have spoken to Bodo and Muslim leaders,” he told reporters here today.
The Centre has sent 29 companies of central forces, 14 yesterday and 15 more today, to assist local police and the army, which has already been deployed in the area.
Underground outfits also blamed the Assam government and exposed the fissures within. Govinda Basumatary, general secretary of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive), said Assam government’s “agents” were fomenting trouble.
Besieged by problems within his own party in Assam and the recent molestation case, Gogoi is on the back foot.
The violence has ended up being a humanitarian crisis with tens of thousands of people taking shelter in relief camps. Sporadic incidents of violence have spread across more than 400 villages over an area more than 8,000 square km.