States & UTs

    Rahul irritates people, unaware of sensitivities of states: Assam CM

    The Hawk
    April8/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma claims an exodus from Congress to BJP post Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, criticizing Gandhi's approach and misunderstanding of Assam's cultural and political landscape.

    Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

    Titabor (Assam): Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that an 'exodus' of Congress leaders began after Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra passed through the state.

    In an interview with PTI at Titabor in Jorhat district, Sarma slammed Gandhi for raking up topics such as caste census and Manipur violence in Assam without having a proper briefing on the ground situation.

    He claimed that more leaders of the grand old party will join the BJP after the Lok Sabha elections.

    "During 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra', he (Gandhi) did a lot of (political) harakiri on the roads. People, including Congress leaders, got very offended. That helped us a lot," Sarma said when asked if the yatra would have any impact on Lok Sabha elections in the state.

    Sarma claimed the exodus from Congress started after the yatra and it is continuing.

    "Rahul doesn't know the culture of a state. He doesn't study or discuss with his colleagues. He comes and irritates people. If we go to a state, we will have a proper briefing like who are the cultural icons, what things are to be said or not to be said and what are the sensitivities of that state," he added.

    The Chief Minister, who travels extensively across India to campaign for BJP during different elections, claimed that he takes briefing and debriefing before going to a state so that nothing goes wrong.

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    "Rahul comes without that kind of briefing. And he, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, ends up humiliating the local people and that creates a problem," he added.

    Giving an example, Sarma said Gandhi raised the issues of caste census and Manipur violence in Assam although 'none of these topics have any relevance here'.

    "Assam is a casteless society and people do not believe in casteism. If suddenly someone comes here and talks about caste census, nobody will accept that. Caste census may be relevant in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but not in Assam," he said.

    "When you come to Assam and go on speaking about Manipur, people feel disconnected because Manipur and Assam are two different states," Sarma said.

    He said neither Manipur has any impact on Assam nor has Assam any impact on Manipur. "But many people coming to Assam started asking questions about Manipur. That means they came without briefing. Every time, Rahul comes to Assam without taking a briefing of Assam and that's the problem," Sarma said.

    When asked if it was the fault of Assam Congress for not briefing Gandhi properly, Sarma, who was once a member of the opposition party, chose to blame the Wayanad MP, calling him as an 'impatient' person.

    "Getting an audience for the briefing is the problem. You have to give time, you have to have patience. He (Gandhi) is an impatient person. You need a lot of patience to understand the culture, anthropology and geography. So, you have to give at least two hours before you come to a state," the BJP leader said.

    The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra passed through Assam from January 18 to 25, during which Gandhi had locked horns with Sarma, terming him 'the most corrupt CM of India'. The eight-day journey remained very eventful witnessing high-voltage drama, accusations from both sides, clashes and multiple FIRs at different police stations.

    Sarma, in several election campaign meetings in the last one month, claimed that all Congress leaders, including the party's state chief Bhupen Kumar Borah will join the BJP in the coming days.

    Asked if he made this statement on the basis of facts or if it was just political rhetoric, the BJP leader said, "Today, if you go to the Congress headquarters or any district office, you will see empty chairs and empty rooms. Because in the last three months, most of the Congress people I know have joined the BJP. Now, there are hardly 30-40 state leaders in the Congress. I think that after Lok Sabha elections, all other leaders will join the BJP," he said.

    In recent times, several hundred Congress members and leaders have joined the BJP across Assam. Dissatisfaction grew after the opposition party published the names of the nominees for the general elections.

    Voting in 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam will take place in three phases on April 19, 26 and May 7.

    When asked specifically about his claim of Borah joining the ruling party early next year, Sarma said, "What I have said is that every Congressman will join the BJP in due course of time. Almost everybody, who has filed defamation cases or has spoken against us on the floor of the assembly, has joined us. I don't think Bhupen Borah will be an exception."

    Taking strong objection to the statement, Borah has already filed a Rs 10-crore defamation suit against Sarma, claiming that various statements made by the BJP leader have damaged his public image and the party.

    The Chief Minister had also stated that some will be left in the Congress and will never join the saffron party.

    Regarding his statement, Sarma, without naming anyone, said, "There are two to three leaders in Assam whose fathers were former chief ministers. Also, there may be somebody who is very deeply connected (to Congress) and cannot come or we also would not want to take. Every political party has a negative list. There are 4-5 people on the list. Barring them, everybody will come."

    Presently, there are three Congress politicians whose fathers were former CMs of Assam. Hiteswar Saikia's son Debabrata Saikia is the leader of the opposition in the assembly, Tarun Gogoi's son Gaurav Gogoi is the deputy leader of the party in Lok Sabha and a candidate in this election from Jorhat constituency, while Bhumidhar Barman's son Diganta Barman is an MLA.