The Telegraph
Friday , March 28 , 2014
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Rahul flaunts Assam model

Chaulkhowa/Biswanath Chariali, March 27: AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi today used the Assam model of development to deflate the “hot air balloon” called the Gujarat model in the battle for Delhi.

Addressing a rally at Chaulkhowa on the outskirts of Dibrugarh town this evening, Rahul said every five years, ahead of elections, the BJP releases a “hot air balloon”. In 2004 it was India Shining, this time it is Modi’s Gujarat model. Like the India Shining balloon, this will also explode, he added.

Two days earlier in Guwahati, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had released a comparative note, Gujarat versus Assam, on various parameters such as health, education and growth rate to show that other states were also doing their bit for national development. Though the Assam BJP had sent the comparative note to the Gujarat CMO, the latter has not yet responded.

Rahul’s stress on the two state models at both his rallies in Assam today will only intensify as campaigning peaks for the general elections starting April 7, Congress insiders said. It has become a must to call the BJP’s bluff, they said.

Dubbing the Gujarat model “hollow”, Rahul said its growth rate in 2012-13 was 8.5 per cent while Assam’s growth rate, in the corresponding period, was higher at 13 per cent.

“If Assam has to develop, it will have to be Assam model of development, not Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, the US or the UK model,” he said. Any imposition would be an insult to the people of the state, he added.

Rahul had said the same thing at Kamala Kanta Khetra in Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district under Tezpur constituency in the morning amid loud cheers. The meeting was well-attended despite a 12-hour Sonitpur bandh called by the Songbijit faction of the NDFB. The rally venue is about 80km from Tezpur, 200km from Guwahati, which is 440km from Dibrugarh.

“Assam does not require a Gujarat model. Assam needs only the Assam model with its history and culture. It has developed because power has been decentralised. But the Opposition wants to vest power in one person. We are for the poor and secularism,” he said.

At Chaulkhowa, Rahul said the place was known as the tea city of India but we should not be content with that and must work towards making it the tea city of the world while mobilising support for Congress candidate and DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, who is up against the BJP’s Rameshwar Teli and the AGP’s Anup Phukan in Dibrugarh.

He said the Congress would give importance to development of the tea industry, which is the mainstay of the state’s economy, and tea garden workers, who play a decisive role in the outcome.

“I am impressed by Rahul Gandhi’s speech, especially about developing Dibrugarh as the tea city of the world and women empowerment,” said Beauty Begum, a nurse in a Dibrugarh hospital.

In a bid to connect with the people of Tezpur, Rahul said he had learnt about Tezpur from his grandmother Indira Gandhi during childhood when she told him about her experiences as a relief worker there during the 1962 Chinese aggression.

Like Gogoi and Kalita, he appealed to all to vote for party nominee in Tezpur, Bhupen Kumar Borah.

Borah, whose speech was steeped in history and culture of Tezpur, pledged to work for all communities and start work on a four-lane highway along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary within a year of becoming MP so that people living in the interiors could benefit from development. He thanked the crowd for ignoring the threats from NDFB (Songbijit)’s AK-47s.

Gogoi, felicitated for becoming the longest-serving chief minister of Assam at Biswanath Chariali, said, “The Congress considers the poor its god but for the BJP it is Har Har Modi.” He said the Congress would win at least 12 of the 14 seats in Assam.