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CAB shows BJP’s ignorance about Assamese sensitivities:

My government proposed NRC for a different reason and with a different approach. It was mainly to expose BJP’s allegations that there were 50-60 lakh illegal (Muslim) immigrants in Assam and also to find out the exact number of foreigners, says former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 13, 2019, 08.32 AM IST
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ET Q&A
With Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi

How will CAB impact Assam?
The idea of CAB, aimed at unleashing Hindutva in Assam, only confirms BJP and the Modi government do not understand Assamese sensitivity about their language, culture and heritage. CAB has forced the people of Assam to wage their last battle for survival. Things will turn worse for Assam.


What about the Centre’s assurance to protect Assam’s interests?
The protection for the Sixth Schedule Tribal Areas has always been there. With almost the remaining of northeastern states protected by the inner line permit system now, Assam which is already burdened with excess people will have to bear the brunt of CAB.

Don’t you think CAB will be used to help Hindus left out of NRC?
The BJP government can only speak about it but won’t be able to do anything. Indian citizens have been thrown out of NRC and to give them exemption through CAB, these very Indian citizens will have to declare themselves as illegal immigrants and victims of religious prosecution. How can they do that? Therefore, I demand the NRC be revised to include all those whose names figure in the 2019 voters list as Indian citizens.

Were you not the one who proposed NRC and filed an affidavit in SC?
True! My government proposed NRC for a different reason and with a different approach. It was mainly to expose BJP’s allegations that there were 50-60 lakh illegal (Muslim) immigrants in Assam and also to find out the exact number of foreigners. When a pilot project led to protest, I set up a Cabinet committee that passed to the Centre a framework to do an NRC based on the Assam Accord, with March 1971 as cut-off date. CAB has, however, dismantled the Assam Accord. When Modi government tried to do NRC for its political ends by advancing the cut-off date, I filed an affidavit in SC, demanding that the 2014 voters list be taken as cut-off period. It’s BJP’s ignorance about Assam and its communal calculation that led to the NRC fiasco. I must add that the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi added to the mess.

How?
Without a machinery and understanding of ground reality, ex-CJI Gogoi should not have made it an SC-monitored NRC. He was trying to be a larger-than-life figure. I too felt proud when Justice Gogoi became the first CJI from Assam. But, I am saddened to see he retired as a CJI with many sections of Indians suspecting him to be a compromised person.

But why have CM Sarbananda Sonowal and finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma blamed your government?
As BJP’s PM candidate in 2014, Modi said in Assam that while his Gujarat government provided water for Gujaratis, the Assam government could not despite having the Brahmaputra. Sarma as a Congress leader responded ‘what Modi had provided in the pipe for the people of Gujarat was the blood of Muslims’. Today, Sarma is a BJP turncoat and he will go to any extent of lying to show his loyalty to PM Modi and BJP. People know what Sonowal used to say as a AGP/AASU man and what he speaks now as a BJP CM. It’s sad to see the CM is fleeing from the area of protests.

What will you and your party do now?
Either I, or the Congress as a party, will go to SC to challenge CAB and we will also go to the people’s court. We will stand by the people of Assam.
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