Assam Minister says Rahul’s focus on CAA misplaced
Assam’s Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Congress party’s anti- Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) pitch for the upcoming Assembly polls is out of sync with what the people want to hear from their leaders after a year of having suffered COVID-19. The party was more “2019 than 2021” in its outlook, he said.
Mr. Sarma spoke exclusively to The Hindu as the poll campaign gained strength in the State and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi made the anti-CAA plank a cornerstone of the party’s campaign while addressing a rally.
“Identity issues are important, especially in Assam, but what I have found in the last month or two of intense interactions with people is that they are looking for a more positive message of hope with regard to their livelihoods, infrastructure, economy etc after what they have had to go through during 2020 and the COVID-19 world,” said Mr. Sarma.
“The Congress party’s decision to make anti-CAA the cornerstone of their campaign is, therefore, a very negative signal to people who are thirsty for positivity. Mr. Gandhi is speaking of a world of 2019, rather than where we find ourselves after an extraordinary year of undergoing COVID-19 lockdowns and slowdowns. He (Rahul Gandhi) is therefore looking for a world that doesn’t currently exist,” Mr. Sarma suggested.
He clarified that there was no contradiction in the BJP’s stand on CAA whether in Assam or West Bengal, with implementation of the citizenship law a key promise in the latter.
“Our party has reiterated that we are on the same page as the Centre on the question of CAA. As and when the rules for CAA are notified we will implement them,” said Mr. Sarma.
“Our theme for the election is revolving around giving hope to the people and to move away from the negativity that is COVID-19. The External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was here in Assam on Monday with the Japanese Ambassador and spoke eloquently about economic opportunities arising out of bilateral relations. The National Register of Citizenship (NRC) and CAA may be issues, but they are not what people are currently concerned with, which are issues of a better future,” Mr. Sarma said.
Meanwhile, the BJP renominated Bodo leader Biswajeet Daimary to the Rajya Sabha from Assam, on a seat going into bypolls on March 1, which Mr Daimary had vacated after he resigned and left his party, the Bodo People’s Front (BPF).
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