The Telegraph
Friday , May 23 , 2014
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Sarma: Local issues behind poll debacle

Guwahati, May 22: Assam health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today blamed local issues and not the Modi wave for the Congress’s poll debacle in Assam.

Sarma, who is believed to head the dissident group, claimed there was no Modi wave in the east and the Northeast, which was well reflected from the poll results in states like Bengal, Odisha, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

“In Assam, the BJP took advantage of local issues to improve its tally this time by bagging seven seats compared to the four in 2009,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by the education department here today to distribute financial aid of Rs 1 crore each to 45 provincialised colleges for developing their infrastructure.

According to Sarma, the failure of the state government to implement the Food Security Act, corruption in government departments, among others, were responsible for the party’s poor performance.

“We have missed three deadlines to implement the act. More importantly, what were the impediments in implementing the act and what steps we can take to curb corruption were never discussed in the cabinet meetings,” he said.

He, however, clarified that he was not holding any individual but certain issues responsible for the poll debacle.

“When there is a road accident, everybody tends to blame the driver but we should see whether there was any defect in the engine or the tyres, which could have caused the accident,” Sarma said.

“But at the same time we must also see why the state government, which includes me, has failed to address these issues and take corrective measures even when we had enough time to do so,” he said.

“There should be a thorough introspection of the reasons for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls,” the minister said.

He, however, refused to make any comment on the memorandum submitted by the anti-Gogoi camp to the party high command.

Sarma said a Congress leader who lost the last Assembly elections is playing the role of “Sakuni” and creating differences and misunderstandings among the ministers and MLAs of the party.

Though Sarma refrained from taking his name, he gave enough hints that he was referring to former press adviser to the chief minister, Bharat Narah.

“Instead of acting as a media or publicity adviser, the person acted more as a planting adviser. He planted news against his party colleagues in the media,” Sarma said.

When asked whether he was referring to Narah, Sarma neither confirmed nor denied it.

He said “misplaced publicity” during the election campaign could be another reason for the party’s defeat.

“During campaigning, we had highlighted certain schemes which were not properly implemented on the ground, which could have also contributed to the poor show in the polls,” Sarma said.