A large number of people defied a bandh called by the anti-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam to attend the election rally of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Dhakuakhana in Lakhimpur district in eastern Assam on Saturday morning.
Dr Singh called upon the people to give the ruling Congress another chance to complete its unfinished agenda of putting the state on the fast track of development in a peaceful atmosphere.
Wishing the people of Assam for the forthcoming Rangali Bihu (the spring festival), Dr Singh stated that the Congress, which is a party of 'aam admi', was committed to making Assam one of the most prosperous and peaceful states in the country.
He called upon the people to vote for the Congress to 'strengthen the hands of party president Sonia Gandhi'.
He said, "The Congress government in Assam led by Tarun Gogoi has worked tremendously in tandem with the United Progressive Alliance government in the Centre to usher in an era of development and peace in the state."
"Assam was reeling from a severe financial crisis, lack of development and excessive violence when the Congress came to power in 2001 after defeating the Asom Gana Parishad. Today the situation has completely changed and the people are hoping for better days ahead because of efficient governance by the Congress under the leadership of (chief minister) Tarun Gogoi," Dr Singh said.
He lauded the people of Assam for putting up a brave front against insurgency and cooperating with the government to restore peace in the state. He asserted that the Centre was ready to hold talks with any insurgent outfit that has abjured the path of violence.
Recalling his February meeting with leaders of the pro-talks faction of the outlawed ULFA in New Delhi, Dr Singh termed the meeting a positive development and hoped that both parties would capitalise on it to resolve the problem within the framework of the Constitution.
The banned ULFA faction had called for the bandh to protest the PM's visit and the 'ruling Congress policy to create a rift in the ULFA to hold peace talks with a faction.'
The ULFA faction led by 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Barua has threatened to target Congress leaders and cadres to 'avenge' the Congress government's decision to start a dialogue with a faction of the outfit led by its 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa.