Longest bridge opens today

AIIMS, IARI gifts for Assam

By UMANAND JAISWAL and PANKAJ SARMA in Guwahati
  • Published 26.05.17
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Guwahati, May 25: Assam has decked up for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit tomorrow, made special by double anniversary celebrations - three years of the BJP-led government at the Centre and one year in the state.

Not only Assam but the entire country will be hanging on to Modi's every word as he reflects on the road travelled so far and contemplates the journey ahead. While Modi will complete three years at the Centre tomorrow, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal completed one year in Dispur yesterday.

Modi, who will be on a daylong visit to the state tomorrow, will start his public engagements by inaugurating the country's longest river bridge, the Dhola-Sadiya bridge, in Tinsukia district around 10.45am. Next, he will lay the foundation stone of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Assam at Gogamukh in Dhemaji district around 12.10pm. Around 3pm, he will symbolically lay the foundation stone of AIIMS Assam (proposed to be set up at Changsari in Kamrup district) at Sarusajai stadium in Guwahati through remote control.

All three mega projects are expected to change the face of the region. While the bridge will drastically cut distance, the two institutes will open new avenues in health and agriculture.The IARI and AIIMS, first of their kind institutes in the Northeast, were approved to be set up in Assam by the Union cabinet in the last eight days.

But more than the mega projects, which were in the pipeline for some time, all eyes and ears will be on what the Prime Minister says at the rallies, especially at Khanapara. The Khanapara mega rally, organised by the ruling BJP to collectively celebrate the anniversaries of both the governments, will be Modi's concluding engagement of the day.

Arupjyoti Choudhury, a political commentator, said Modi's address becomes important because the honeymoon period is over. "This visit/meeting will not be about wooing voters but how much his government has actually delivered on the promises made to the nation and Assam before coming to power. The second year for the state government will definitely be a year of expectations, consolidation and criticism. No doubt it will be the most anticipated and challenging meetings," he said.

Anjan Barua, a self-employed youth residing at Khanapara, said, "I am very excited to hear Modi speak tomorrow on the issues confronting the state." He was referring to issues such as granting of citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, the fate of big dams, status quo on North-East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy hampering investment in the region on which the state and the Centre do not seem to be on the same page.

Sonowal had yesterday said his government was committed to protecting the territorial integrity of Assam, implementing the Assam Accord and updating the National Register of Citizens. He also spoke about his government's drive against corruption and encroachment.

Barua said, "There seems to be apparent differences between Delhi and the coalition government at Dispur on these issues. But something concrete from the Prime Minister will allay fears in the minds of the indigenous people."

At Khanapara, party workers were busy preparing a grand welcome for the Prime Minister. The entire city has been spruced up for Modi's visit.

Posters featuring Modi and other senior BJP leaders have been put up at the venue.

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav visited the Khanapara venue this afternoon to take stock of the preparations for tomorrow's programme. He was accompanied by Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, MP Ramen Deka and BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.

State BJP leader Pabitra Margherita said cultural programmes featuring songs and dances of ethnic communities of the state have been organised at Khanapara as a part of the anniversary celebration.

The party is expecting a turnout of over one lakh for the rally. Nine trains and several buses have been booked to bring party workers from all over the state to the venue. A similar turnout is expected at Sadiya and Gogamukh.

DoNER minister Jitendra Singh, power minister Piyush Goyal, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh are likely to attend the Khanapara function.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, cabinet ministers Parimal Suklabaidya and Pallab Lochan Das, Dibrugarh MP Rameswar Teli and Lakhimpur MP Pradan Baruah today took stock of the preparations for the inauguration of the Dhola-Sadiya bridge in Tinsukia district.

Members of NSUI and Youth Congress protested at Dhola, the entry point to the bridge, this afternoon, demanding entry to the bridge but they were denied permission by security personnel.

Additional reporting by Rajiv Konwar and Vinod Kumar Singh