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'Strong undercurrent' in favour of Congress in Northeast: Jairam Ramesh

The freedom to eat, freedom to dress, freedom to profess one's faith...basic freedoms are at stake. That is the real issue in the Northeast: Ramesh

PTI New Delhi Published 15.04.24, 05:46 PM
Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh File photo

The Congress on Monday claimed that there is a "strong undercurrent" of support for it in the Northeast because of the fear that the diversity of the region is going to be "destroyed" and uniformity imposed by the BJP.

Congress general secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh said that there is a fear in the Northeast that a government that can "bulldoze the abolition of Article 370 can very well bulldoze the abolition of Article 371 and its special provisions".

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Ramesh, who recently was on a campaign tour to northeastern states such as Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram, said there is a "strong undercurrent" of support and sympathy for the Congress because the issues in the Lok Sabha elections are quite different from those in the assembly elections.

"The issue in the Lok Sabha election is the preservation of the special provisions for the Northeast in our Constitution -- 371-A for Nagaland, 371-B for Assam, 371-C for Manipur, 371-F for Sikkim, 371-G form Mizoram, 371-H for Arunachal Pradesh. There is a fear that a government that can bulldoze the abolition of Article 370 can very well bullldoze the abolition of Article 371 and its special provisions," Ramesh said at a press briefing at the AICC headquarters here.

"So the most important issue in the Northeast is the preservation of the religious diversity, linguistic diversity, food diversity, and very important issue in the northeast in the last few days is the food...the freedom to eat what you want to eat," he said.

"The freedom to eat, freedom to dress, freedom to profess one's faith...basic freedoms are at stake. That is the real issue in the Northeast," he said.

Ramesh claimed that the BJP's strategy in the Northeast has been to use regional parties to spread its presence but this is not going to work in the Lok Sabha polls.

"The chief minister (Himanta Biswa Sarma) and seven of his ministers are sitting in Jorhat to ensure (our candidate loses) but his victory is certain. People have made up their mind that Gaurav Gogoi who is the most powerful and most vocal voice of the Northeast in Parliament should be given the opportunity to represent Jorhat," he said.

In the northeastern states, there is a strong undercurrent of support because of the fear that the diversity of the region is going to be "destroyed" and the BJP will impose uniformity, Ramesh said.

"Our message in the Northeast is that the BJP will impose uniformity, while the Congress wants to strengthen unity in diversity," he said.

Ramesh also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not visiting the violence-hit Manipur, wondering if he has the courage to visit the state or not.

The Congress leader also spoke about the various phases of the party's campaign, saying it started with the 'mere vikas ka do hisaab' and then moved on to the 'haath badlega halaat' which is based on five nyays -- naari nyay, kisaan nyay, yuva nyay, shramik nyay and hissedaari nyay.

"Our party is distributing our guarantee cards to eight crore households. About 80 per cent of cards in constituencies that go to poll on April 19 have been distributed," he said.

Ramesh claimed that the Congress' 'nyay patra' has rattled the BJP and "forced the PM" to use language that is unbecoming of a PM and use it for injecting communal atmosphere into the campaign.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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