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Parties stress on riot, graft

- AIUDF, AGP release rural poll manifestos

Guwahati, Jan. 5: The Opposition AIUDF and AGP will base their campaign for the three-phase panchayat election, starting January 30, on the Kokrajhar riots and corruption respectively.

The BTAD violence and its handling by the ruling Congress figured prominently in the AIUDF’s poll manifesto released here today, making it clear that it would use the foreigners’ issue as its poll plank against the ruling party.

The AIUDF is emerging as the main threat to the Congress in lower Assam, following the Kokrajhar riots in July which left over 100 dead and nearly five lakh displaced, mostly Muslims. The party, which draws its support mainly from the minority community, is likely to benefit from the riots as two of the riot-affected districts — Dhubri and Bongaigaon — have a significant minority presence.

Releasing the 16-page manifesto, AIUDF working president Aditya Langthasa mainly spoke of corruption and the Congress’s failure to fulfil its promise of good governance. One-fourth of the manifesto (four pages) speaks of BTAD violence and the Congress government’s “silent support” of those behind it.

The manifesto claims that genuine Indian citizens are facing harassment in the name of detection of Bangladeshis. It charges the Congress-led government with failing to resolve the foreigners’ issue by updating the National Register of Indian Citizens.

“The killings which took place recently in BTAD would not have been possible without silent support of the Assam government and the BTC administration. Religious minority people have been killed and their houses burnt down. The communal and regional forces have even tried to prove that those living in the relief camps are Bangladeshis and it is a fight between the locals and the foreigners. Even today the government has not taken any sincere step to instil a sense of security among religious minorities in BTAD. The AIUDF is in favour of these poor Indian citizens,” it says.

Langthasa said chief minister Tarun Gogoi was a “failed leader” who had been unable to provide good governance and bring transparency to implementation of welfare schemes like NREGA and Indira Awas Yojana and other facilities to the poor through panchayats.

AGP president and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who released the party’s “panchayat declaration” today, said the AGP would fight for eradication of corruption and irregularities in distribution of BPL cards, streamlining of the public distribution system and safety of women and their empowerment, and oppose the construction of big dams, among other issues.

The party’s declaration reiterated its support for according Scheduled Tribe status to six indigenous communities of the state, for the welfare of tea tribes and also demanded a new land policy. It slammed the Congress for failing to fulfil its promise of decentralisaiton of power through panchayats.

Both the AIUDF and the AGP announced that they would go it alone in the panchayat election.