|Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi felicitates Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Khumtai tea estate on Saturday.
Picture by UB Photos
Sivasagar, March 29: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not talk about the Gujarat or Assam growth models. In his own inimitable manner, he today conveyed that the Congress-led UPA government’s tenure was the best decade for India on the progress graph.
Both Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi have blasted BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model of development, describing it as a “hot air balloon”.
Gogoi had also released a comparative note, Gujarat versus Assam, showing Assam ahead of Gujarat on various parameters.
Singh kept it simple and straight at his first rally in Assam for the Lok Sabha polls at Khumtai Tea Estate, about 45km from Upper Assam’s Sivasagar town, which is 360km from Guwahati. Sivasagar falls under Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency.
Mobilising support for two senior sitting party MPs, DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar and his immediate predecessor Bijoy Krishna Handique, who are contesting from Dibrugarh and Jorhat respectively, Singh stressed, among other parameters, the fall in the number of poor by 14 crore between 2004 and 2011. He harped on the agriculture growth from 2.4 per cent in the Tenth Plan to 3.7 per cent in the Eleventh Plan.
He said it was important to remind the people of his government’s big contributions as it may get lost in the din of electioneering and “false propaganda” of Opposition parties.
Seeking a vote for the Congress for an “inclusive and united India”, something he said “the BJP cannot provide”, Singh said, “I feel fortunate enough to have served the people of my country for 10 years as the Prime Minister. It has always been my endeavour to do my job with utmost honesty, sincerity and dedication. I tried to do the same as the country’s Prime Minister. Looking back at the 10 years, I feel India has never ever achieved so much tarakki (progress) as in the past decade despite two global economic crises.”
Starting with the words, “UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi have sent me here with the message that the people should vote for the Congress,” Singh admitted that despite the achievements, “our job remains half done”.
Touching on sensitive issues such as price rise and corruption, he admitted that his government had failed to control price rise despite its best efforts but added that things were improving of late.
“There is an allegation that the UPA government has not taken any step to control corruption. On the contrary, the steps taken by us to control corruption has not been taken by any other government in the past,” Singh said, blaming the BJP for “not” supporting new laws to tackle corruption.
“I am referring to the BJP because I want to expose its true colours,” he said.
Singh did not refer to Modi even once but responded to his February 8 criticism levelled in Guwahati of having done nothing for 23 years as Rajya Sabha member from Assam and 10 years as Prime Minister.
He also flayed the BJP’s personality-driven campaign in oblique reference to Modi.
“We have tried our best to exploit the development potential of Assam and the rest of the Northeast because I have been an MP from Assam for 23 years. I have a special affinity towards Assam and the Northeast. If we talk only about Assam, its growth rate has increased manifold and its infrastructure has improved. We have taken steps to boost its tea industry and the overall welfare of tea garden workers,” he said.
Assam’s growth rate has increased from 2.53 per cent in 2000-01 to 13 per cent in 2012-13, according to the note circulated by chief minister Tarun Gogoi a few days back.
Five of Assam’s 14 constituencies go to the polls on April 7. Upper Assam is known as a traditional Congress bastion and the party has gone all out to keep it safe.
In 2009, Congress had won seven of the 14 seats while the BJP, in alliance with AGP, had won four. This time the BJP is going it alone.