The Congress party in Assam on July 20 led a protest in Guwahati against various issues, including incarceration of KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, alleged non-release of pending funds for flood relief and flood management by the central government, steep increase in the prices of essential commodities and alleged use of the COVID-19 pandemic for political one-upmanship by the government.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, led the sit-in demonstration in the state assembly premise, and was joined by Rajya Sabha member-elect Ajit Kumar Bhuyan and KMSS adviser HM Shahjahan and his colleagues.
Among Congress leaders present at the protest were Lok Sabha MPs Gaurav Gogoi and Abdul Khaleque, MLA Motiur Rahman Mandal, ex-minister Siddique Ahmed, NSUI State President Jyotibikash Changmai, APCC Minority Cell Chairman Salman Khan and other functionaries of the Youth Congress and NSUI.
Regarding Akhil Gogoi, the Leader of the Opposition said although the NIA had failed to furnish any proof so far, the BJP-led state government was slapping case after case upon the KMSS leader because of his resolute opposition to the controversial CAA and other anti-Assam acts of the BJP.
He pointed that the BJP-led alliance came to power with a vote share of 41%, which means that 59% votes were cast against it and the government is trying to forcibly prevent opponents from highlighting issues which are crucial for Assam.
Saikia further claimed that the Centre had not released any aid to Assam under the NDRF during the last three-four years.
He mentioned that Congress leaders of Assam had submitted memoranda to the prime minister, the Union home minister, the Union water resources minister and the DoNER minister in August last year and requested urgent release of central funds to tackle the perennial flood problem of Assam.
They had urged the prime minister to declare Assam’s flood crisis as a ‘national problem’, but their appeals fell on deaf ears, the senior leader said.
Saikia alleged that there is ample evidence of the state government’s failure to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Assam, pointing to countless reports of wrong test results, premature release of COVID-19 patients, faulty implementation of quarantine norms etc from across the state.
“The Opposition leaders are being prevented from reaching out to the public on the pretext of COVID-19, but the BJP leaders are being given a free run to interact with the public without maintaining even basic safeguards,” he said.
Saikia pointed out that on one hand the lockdowns has deprived countless families of regular income, and on the other hand, skyrocketing prices of foodstuff, vegetables, medicines, petrol-diesel etc were compounding the plight of the common man.
Talking to reporters, Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi alleged that the BJP-led government had failed dismally in Assam and that the people of the state were suffering due to the tussle for the chief ministership between Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Lok Sabha MP Abdul Khaleque claimed that the treatment meted out to Akhil Gogoi has revealed the dictatorial nature of the state government and demanded the immediate release of Gogoi as well as Debangana Kalita, a student from Assam who has been held in custody by the Delhi Police for her participation in the anti-CAA protests in the national capital.
Rajya Sabha member-elect Ajit Kumar Bhuyan urged all those who believed in regionalism and nationalism to come together to protect the interests of Assam.