BJP is not communal, says Sonowal

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  • Published 9.02.11

Jorhat, Feb. 8: The BJP today inducted former AASU and AGP leader Sarbananda Sonowal into the party at a massive rally in Dibrugarh along with leaders of the tea and Muslim communities in its effort to extend its reach in the state, particularly in Upper Assam and Barak valley.

The others, who joined the BJP along with Sonowal, were Aminul Haq, an AGP leader from Barak valley, former ATTSA president Sanjay Kishan, AASU activists Parimal Kumar Das and Pulak Gohain, another ATTSA leader Lakshya Kumar and Sanjiv Gogoi, Mariani zila parishad member belonging to the Congress.

At the meeting held at the Government Boys’ High School field in Dibrugarh town, Sonowal came down heavily on the AGP for letting go of its agenda to oust foreigners from the state and accused it of dallying with a party (in an obvious reference to the AIUDF) which had been born to protect illegal migrants.

While saying that he still had respect for those AGP leaders who were working hard to stick to their ideology, the former Dibrugarh MP said he could not identify himself with a party, which had largely deviated from this.

“For five years — 2000 to 2005 — I fought at the Supreme Court to get the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act scrapped. However, instead of cashing in on this after the verdict was given in our favour, members of the party are seen to have become close allies with a party which came into existence so that they can shield foreigners in the same way that the act was doing. This is the sole reason for my joining the BJP, which has, since the beginning even when the Assam Agitation was going on had shown its support to the All Assam Students’ Union, which had spearheaded the movement,” he said.

Sonowal said the BJP was only bent on expelling the Bangladeshis from the Northeast and this did not mean that it was a communal party as all communities — Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, the tea community and other ethnic tribes and groups — are welcome to join and work for the party. It is not a communal party evident as it is from the speech of our national president Nitin Gadkari ji,” he said.

Gadkari had earlier stressed on the secular credentials of the BJP saying that all who were Indians whether Sikh or Muslims could join the BJP as it is not a party meant only for the Hindus. He, while welcoming Sonowal into the party fold, said he has been included as a member of the BJP’s national executive.

“We need young and dynamic people like Sonowal to lead the BJP in the state and anyone who works for the party can even achieve the post I am in. Ours is a democratic party, something which cannot be said of the Congress,” he said, while flaying the “corrupt” Congress which was allegedly bent on squeezing the country dry at the expense of the common man.

Even as the BJP flaunted Sonowal as its prize catch, the AGP maintained a nonchalant attitude towards his defection with party president Chandra Mohan Patowary saying the resignation of Sonowal would have “no effect on the AGP”.

“The AGP was born out of the supreme sacrifice made by hundreds of martyrs during the Assam Agitation and the party is bigger than any individual. Even if I or Prafulla Kumar Mahanta quit, then also it will have no effect on the party. Our party is very strong,” Patowary said.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) today fired a salvo at Sonowal accusing him of double-speak and opportunism.

AIUDF MLA Aditya Langthasa today said they had no problem with Sonowal quitting the AGP to join BJP but he should not have dragged AIUDF into this.While influx is likely to feature prominently ahead of Assembly polls, the secretary of the All India Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, Hajrat Maulana Hakimuddin Kasimi, said there was no Bangladeshi in the state.

Kasimi said in Guwahati that the issue does not have relevance in Assam as it has been kept alive for political gains. “Assam does not have any Bangladeshi. If there is any, it is the government’s responsibility to detect and deport them,” Kasimi said. He wanted the government to complete the NRC process as well settle the D voter issue.