Rahul kicks off Congress’ Assam poll campaign, names Gogoi CM candidate (Roundup)

Barpeta/Guwahati, Dec 12 (IANS) Virtually kicking of the party’s campaign in Assam, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday named incumbent Tarun Gogoi as the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the coming assembly polls, and attacked the BJP for spreading “hatred and violence”.

Wrapping up a two-day visit to the northeastern state, Gandhi held a road show, visited the Muslim-dominated Barpeta district and sought votes for the ruling Congress for the sake of development and peace.

Gandhi began the day meeting editors of local newspapers and senior journalists of Assam.

During the interaction, he made the significant but widely-expected announcement that the 79-year-old Gogoi would again be at the helm of the state if the Congress retained power.

Gogoi, now into his third consecutive term as chief minister since taking over the reins of the state in 2001, is regarded as the most acceptable face in the party, and one who can keep all the various factions together. Ahead of the last assembly election also, the Congress had projected him as its chief ministerial candidate.

Gandhi also told the journalists that the leadership of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) and Gogoi would decide on forging alliance with any political party in the run up to the polls.

At Barpeta, thousands of people gathered on both sides of the road to see him and interact with him. Later, he addressed a public rally in the district.

“The BJP only knows how to spread hatred and violence. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi knows how to make people fight against each other and then play politics over it,” Gandhi said.

“(Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji came to Assam about a year back and made many tall promises like he will bring back black money from the foreign banks and deposit at least Rs.15 lakh in the bank accounts of each Indian. However, now he has forgotten all the promises,” he said, launching a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Referring to the recent Bihar elections, he said: “Modiji also went to Bihar and promised lots of things. He held around 25 to 30 meetings in Bihar. The people of the state saw him and listened to him but refused to vote for the party due to its communal agenda.”

“About 15 years back there was unrest in Assam. However, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led Congress government has brought back peace to the state,” he said.

He said the former UPA government at the centre brought the MNREGA so that poor people of the country can be helped.

“The UPA government waived loan burden to the tune of Rs.70,000 crore for the farmers. However, when Modiji came, he tried to end the MNREGA. The special category status of states like Assam has been withdrawn,” he added.

On Friday, Gandhi had started his tour by interacting with a group of women entrepreneurs of the state. He had also addressed the party leaders in Guwahati.

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