A "slip of tongue" by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a public rally where he interchanged the official designations of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah has kicked off a political controversy in the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party maintains it was a 'human error', while the Opposition smells conspiracy to "promote" Shah as the next prime minister.
The faux pas occurred while Sarma was speaking at a public rally in Guwahati on Tuesday to mark the first year in office of his government, which was also attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
During the course of his speech, Sarma expressed his gratitude to “Prime Minister Amit Shah and our dear Home Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president J P Nadda” for their guidance and inspiration.
The nearly 15-second video clip is now being used by the Opposition parties in Assam to question the "agenda" behind this interchange of designations of the two top BJP leaders.
The Congress sharing the clip in its social media accounts referred to similar 'faux pas' concerning Sarma and his predecessor Sarbananada Sonowal.
”When @sarbanandsonwal Ji was the CM, MP @pallablochandas on several occasions referred to cabinet minister @himantabiswa ji as the CM in public!” it tweeted.
”Has #BJP decided its next @PMOIndia replacing @narendramodi Ji? Or a campaign has been launched to promote @AmitShah ji as the PM?” the Congress questioned.
The Assam Jatiya Parishad also alleged ulterior intentions and its spokesperson Ziaur Rahman tweeted claiming that Sarma addressing Shah as prime minister is "not a slip of tongue but one of his strategy".
He referred to Sarma being addressed as chief minister by Lok Sabha MP Pallab Lochan Das and others towards the end of Sonowal government's term in the state.
Rahman said, ”The main agenda behind such an address became clear later. So, in today's context it is not hard to understand the agenda behind Chief Minister Sarma addressing the union home minister as prime minister by the chief minister.”
BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami, however, rubbished the Opposition's claims maintaining that it was a "mere mistake".
”It was a human error, just a slip of tongue. It can happen to anybody,” Goswami told PTI.
He also maintained that the "error" has not caused any "public damage or harmed the people of the state in any manner".
Even Narendra Modi or Amit Shah are not angry over it, he added.
Goswami said the Opposition parties should concentrate on listening to the problems of the public and speak on "real issues" concerning the people instead of focussing on such matters.