The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi nurses truce hope with NDFB

Silchar, Feb. 22: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today announced that contact has been established with the leadership of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), adding that the feedback from the dreaded Bodo militant outfit was “encouraging”.

Gogoi made this disclosure to The Telegraph while on a visit here to campaign for the Congress candidate for Wednesday’s Ratabari bypoll in Karimganj district.

Gogoi disclosed that the Congress government in the state would soon revive peace and security in the insurgency-ravaged state with parleys with the NDFB.

The chief minister told The Telegraph that an ambience of peace and normality has blossomed in the state after the successful conclusion of the talks with the Bodo Liberation Tigers, leading to the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council.

He added that his government had also signed a truce with the Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) and a faction of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) to pave the way for their return to the mainstream.

The chief minister said he was “quite hopeful” about the positive outcome of the preliminary talks at the unofficial level for wooing the guerrilla leaders of the NDFB to hammer out “meaningful peace talks”. He added that he was confident of a constitutional solution to the Boro insurgency.

The chief minister claimed that Assam today was totally “normal” as the sense of fear among the people had receded. He also expressed satisfaction at the positive turn of events in the state, as reflected in the fillip to investments by the private sector and the return of confidence among the general public. He added that the Godrej group of industries had evinced interest in investing in Assam.

However, Gogoi continued to be peeved with the Centre for not contributing due share of the state’s funds, going to the extent of terming this attitude by Delhi as blatant “discrimination”. He pointed out that the state’s share of funds for the eleventh Plan had been drastically pruned and rued that it was yet to be restored even though he had repeatedly pleaded with the Centre.

Gogoi said the World Bank would extend its second tranche of funds to the tune of nearly Rs 1,000 crore for the development of infrastructure for agriculture and irrigation in the state.

Gogoi claimed that his government’s thrust on the development of the state and its efforts to ensure the return of peace and security through parleys with different militant outfits were among a host of factors which would facilitate his party’s victory in the Ratabari byelections, slated for February 26.

Addressing a string of poll rallies in the Ratabari area yesterday, Gogoi promised the voters that his government would soon launch development schemes to transform this neglected and backward block into an “advanced area”.

The chief minister also disclosed that security measures in Ratabari area had been made “foolproof” in a bid to pre-empt clandestine moves by any domestic or foreign agency to whip up trouble during the polls.

Gogoi vehemently denied the allegations being levelled by the BJP that the Congress would rig the Assembly byelection next week by tampering with the electronic voting machines in connivance with a section of the polling staff.

Gogoi, who wrapped up his whirlwind campaign here yesterday, said such “baseless accusations” by the BJP only reflected the “depths of frustration” among the BJP campaign managers in Ratabari as they knew that certain defeat was awaiting them.

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