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Assam CM's request to Rahul Gandhi: Please don't visit...

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: January 21, 2024 22:14 IST
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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi should avoid visiting the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardeva at Batadrava on January 22, as there can be no competition between Lord Ram and the medieval age Vaishnav saint revered as an icon in the state.

IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra', in Assam on Sunday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Sarma said that commandos will be deployed along sensitive routes of minority-dominated areas to be taken by Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra on January 22, the day of the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

"We will request Rahul Gandhi not to visit Batadrava on Monday during the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple as it will reflect Assam in the wrong light," the chief minister said at a press conference in Guwahati.


He can go to the 'satra' (Vaishnavite monastery) at Batadrava after the consecration ceremony without creating 'unnecessary competition which will be sad for Assam', he said.

The managing committee of the Batadrawa Than also asked Gandhi to visit the place after 3 pm on Monday and not during the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

In a letter to Batadrawa's Congress MLA Shibamoni Bora on Sunday afternoon, the managing committee's president Jogendra Nath Dev Mahanta said that on the occasion of the Ram temple's consecration, several organisations have planned devotional programmes at the premises of the Than.

"Several thousands of people are expected to visit the place and as such we cannot allow Gandhi to enter the premises before 3 pm," he said.

"We had received a letter from Bora regarding the Congress MP's visit and we extend a warm welcome to him but we cannot allow him to enter the premises before 3 pm," he said.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the committee, he added.

The Congress, meanwhile, asserted that Gandhi's visit will proceed as scheduled.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Jairam Ramesh maintained that Gandhi will visit the Than in Assam's Nagaon district as planned and urged that 'no politics should be done over it'.

Gandhi is leading a 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' from Manipur to Mumbai, with the march travelling through Assam from January 18 to 25.

It will be reaching Nagaon on Sunday, where it will stop for the night before proceeding onwards the next morning.

"The route of the Yatra was fixed 3-4 weeks before and as per the schedule, we will be in Nagaon on January 22," Ramesh, who is accompanying Gandhi, said at the press conference here en route to the central Assam district.

"We think it is imperative that we visit Batadrawa Than as we are passing through Nagaon. It is the birthplace of the great social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva, whose life continues to inspire crores of people even now," he said.

"There should not have been any dispute over it. No politics should be done over it," the Congress leader asserted.

He said Gandhi will visit the Than on Monday morning and then commence the day's yatra, during which he will travel through Morigaon district before entering neighbouring Meghalaya.

The Yatra will return to Assam after a short trip in the neighbouring state.

Batadrava in Nagon district is the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568), an Assamese saint-scholar, social-religious reformer, poet, playwright and a towering figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam from the 15th-16th century.

Sarma said that he was pained to read a report in the national media that said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the consecration ceremony at Ayodhya, Gandhi will be present at the Batadrava satra.

"This is a wrong projection. There is no competition between Ram and Sankardeva and when the nation's focus is on Ayodhya, it should not be unnecessarily diverted to Assam. We will be grateful if he avoids going to the satra during the Pran Pratistha of the Ram Temple," he said.

Besides, it is not that the Sattra authorities have invited him and as there are Hindus in the Congress too, the visit can be rescheduled to early morning or in the evening, Sarma said.

For Monday, the Congress has chosen a route through 'sensitive areas' of Morigaon, Jagiroad and Nellie which could have been avoided, the chief minister said.

"These areas are sensitive and I cannot discount any law and order situation arising and as such commandos will be deployed along sensitive routes of minority-dominated areas to be taken by Rahul Gandhi's Yatra on January 22," he said.

The reality in these areas cannot be denied and the administrations will have to monitor the situation, he said.

"The apprehension is genuine and with great risk, I am allowing the Yatra tomorrow. If there is a law and order problem, nothing will happen to Gandhi as he will be surrounded by security personnel but my neck is at stake. The government of India will ask me why permission was granted for the Yatra on this sensitive route on Monday," Sarma said.

Nellie had witnessed a carnage during the height of Assam agitation in 1983 when nearly 2,000 people, mostly belonging to Muslims stated to be of Bangladeshi origin, were killed.

District Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of these areas have been directed to increase patrolling and maintain a strict vigil, Sarma added.

"Maybe nobody will come out as people of Assam have matured. But as a law enforcer, we cannot discount any possibility," he said.

He said that he was planning to visit a temple on Monday and watch the consecration ceremony in the Harijan colony 'but now I have to monitor the situation'.

On denying permission to the Congress to take the Yatra through Guwahati city, the chief minister said they have been just asked to avoid the main thoroughfares.

"They had asked for permission at 9:30 am during school and college times. There are hospitals in the area and we cannot allow any traffic snarl during that period. If it were a Sunday, we could have allowed it," he said.

The Congress hardly gets votes in Assam and 'if they create problems for the people, they will get even less votes', Sarma added.

Regarding Gandhi attacking him and his family on corruption, the chief minister said, "Earlier, I thought he was afraid of me but now it seems he is scared of my children too who are not even in politics."

He claimed that the Yatra has so far hardly seen much crowd but in certain minority-dominated Lower Assam areas, Muslims of Bangladeshi origin join the march.

"Muslim women and girls are grateful to us as we have taken several steps for their welfare which include abolition of triple talaq, measures to end polygamy and child marriage, along with setting up schools and colleges for girls in minority-dominated areas," Sarma said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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