Gogoi tirade against Rajnath, Modi

Assam chief minister targets pm and home minister on pathankot air base raid

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 6.01.16
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Soldiers at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Tuesday and (below) Union home minister Rajnath Singh with Union minister of state for sport and youth affairs Sarbananda Sonowal during his visit to the Karimganj sector of the India-Bangladesh border in Assam. PTI pictures

Guwahati, Jan. 5: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi this afternoon tore into Union home minister Rajnath Singh over the Pathankot air base attack and his Assam border visit, but the target appeared to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "failed" diplomatic and "Team India" initiatives.

Gogoi said the Pathankot attack in Punjab proved that Modi's drop-by diplomacy in Pakistan, by allegedly ignoring internal concerns, had failed and it showed the Centre's ineptness in handling the situation.

"The home minister said before coming to Assam that everything had been cleared, but operations are continuing. It is clear all these foreign trips and the drop-by diplomacy to meet Sharif by Modi have failed to yield dividends," Gogoi said.

The Pathankot attack, said to have been carried out by militant groups based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, took place on Saturday. By evening, Rajnath, who was on a two-day visit to the India-Bangladesh border in Assam from Sunday, said five terrorists had been killed and the operations were over.

However, search operations continued for the fourth day today and the number of people dead has gone up to 14, including six terrorists - something which Gogoi tried to highlight at today's media interaction.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi at the Secretariat in Dispur on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Modi had made a two-hour stopover at Lahore on Christmas to wish Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday while he was on his way to Delhi from Kabul. The move aimed at normalising ties with the neighbouring country came as a surprise to many within his government as well.

The Pathankot attack, 12 days after Modi's visit, has raised question about his efforts to normalise ties with Pakistan where the handlers of the neutralised militants are said to be from.

All but accusing Rajnath of concentrating on party politics instead of his job as the home minister, Gogoi said: "He could have finished the Assam border visit in a day, but he stayed for two days. He also did not ask me or the chief secretary or the DGP to accompany him to the border. In these two days, he did not discuss law and order or about militancy or the NRC update which is being carried out under the MHA, with us.#"

Gogoi then trained his guns on Modi's "Team India" concept by picking holes in Rajnath's border visit to Karimganj and Dhubri districts on Sunday and Monday respectively. "What happened to cooperative federalism the Prime Minister talks about? What about his 'Team India' concept? Aren't we a part of India? Aren't we involved in fencing the border? Aren't we involved in checking influx? I was expecting a call from the home minister," Gogoi said.

Modi had highlighted the "Team India" concept at a BJP national executive meeting in January 2014 before the Lok Sabha polls and then at the first meeting of the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog g#overning c#ouncil on February 7 last year.

According to him, "Team India", comprising the states and the Centre, must work to forge a model of cooperative federalism for resolving differences and charting a common course for development. An official release had said "Team India" was a combination of three teams - the Prime Minister and chief ministers, central ministers and the bureaucracy both at the Centre and the states.

Gogoi today punched holes in the "Team India" concept by picking on Rajnath's visit. "He gave the impression that the border would be sealed this year, but he did not say that we have completed 97.75 per cent of border fencing. What is this if not politics before elections? But people of Assam are mature enough to see through this. Along with catchy slogans people also expect action," Gogoi said.

Assam and Bangladesh share 263km of land and riverine border of which 5.14km of land border fencing remains to be completed in Karimganj district and 35km of riverine border in Dhubri district.

Gogoi said they had requested the Centre to take up a pilot project involving technological solution to plug the riverine border.