The Telegraph
Thursday , March 13 , 2014
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Modi tea an insult: Gogoi

- ‘World famous Assam brew misused’

Guwahati, March 12: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi feels the mobile Narendra Modi tea stall is an insult to the “world famous” Assam tea.

Gogoi, who often criticises Modi’s promise of Gujarat-like development in Assam, today opposed the use of tea for Modi’s publicity.

“Modi tea is an insult. Assam tea is already world famous and he is now using it for political gains,” Gogoi said at the Congress state headquarters here while claiming that the ruling party’s result in the Lok Sabha poll would be better than that in 2009.

The BJP set up mobile Narendra Modi tea stalls in parts of the country following Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer’s jibe calling the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate a tea-seller. Modi also simultaneously started a campaign, Chai Pe Charcha, and distributed free tea ahead of election.

“This is an absurd statement. Modiji’s Chai Pe Charcha is already a hit and where is the harm in it? There is a NaMo wave across the country. Gogoiji has nothing to argue with the BJP, so he is making such statements,” former BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters soon after reviewing the party’s poll preparedness in the state.

In 2009, the Congress had won seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam. The BJP had bagged four seats while its ally, the AGP, had won one seat. The AIUDF and the BPF had also won one seat each.

Gogoi accused Modi of adhering to “divisive politics” to woo voters during his recent rallies in Guwahati and Silchar. “He (Modi) tried to divide people as Hindus and Muslims in Barak Valley and when he is in Bihar he talks about attacks on Hindi-speaking people in Assam. This divisive formula will not work here,” Gogoi said.

Naidu, who claimed that the Congress was counting its days because of the numerous scams, accused Gogoi of winning elections with the votes of Bangladeshi migrants. “Largescale influx from Bangladesh is a serious issue in Assam but the Congress looks at them as vote bank. It is doing nothing to solve the problem. Half of Assam is now occupied by Bangladeshis,” he said.

Gogoi also downplayed the threat of “dissidence” within his party. “Some unhappiness will always be there. Why are you worried? I should be worried but I am not,” Gogoi replied when asked if the dissidence factor was a challenge to the Congress in the elections.

On the open airing of “grievances” by a group of MLAs last night, Gogoi said, “Himanta Biswa Sarma went to my house at 11am yesterday and informed me about the meeting. So where is the dissidence? All will work together and we will win more seats than in 2009”.

He said the Congress’s improved performance in the 2011 state Assembly election (79 seats out of 126) as well as panchayat, municipality and autonomous council polls indicated that the Opposition had failed to break the party’s support base.

Gogoi said the Opposition in the state was still weak, hence the BJP was inducting leaders from the AGP to offer tickets. “The BJP has to take AGP leaders as it doesn’t have good candidates to contest the election whereas in the Congress there is a close contest among good leaders for tickets.”

Asked about tickets being given to his son Gaurav (Kaliabor) and Manas Bora, son of social welfare minister Akon Bora, Gogoi said, “They got tickets because of their work and not because they are sons of ministers.”

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