Chief Minister sides with the Bodos, sees the recent violence as a conspiracy of Muslim leaders to topple him
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi sees the violent clash between Bodos and alleged Bangladeshi immigrants as a conspiracy by Muslim leaders to dethrone him. On August 11, he mocked perfume baron and All India United Democratic Front chief, Badruddin Ajmal. “Badru bhai has been praying to Allah for the last eight years to unseat me as the Chief Minister. But Allah failed him. I hope this time Allah succeeds in toppling me. I will be at peace,” said Gogoi in Guwahati and laughed at his own joke. He was reacting to Ajmal’s demand for Gogoi’s resignation over his failure to control violence in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District ( BTAD) areas that erupted on July 20 and has claimed 78 lives. Dismissing Congress General Secretary and observer for Assam Digvijaya Singh’s assertion that there was no dissidence in the Assam Congress, he even said that a Cabinet colleague of his had joined hands with Ajmal in this effort.
Gogoi also contradicts the Congress on the involvement of illegal immigrants in the BTAD violence. On July 10, Singh said in Guwahati that the recent clash had nothing to do with illegal immigrants. A day later, Gogoi said that over 39,000 persons identified and confirmed as infiltrators by tribunals in Assam were absconding. This admission goes against the traditional stand of the Congress, which has long considered the immigrant population as its most secure vote bank.
The Chief Minister has already made it clear which side he is on, during the clashes between the Bodos and the alleged immigrants. On July 28, when he accompanied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Kokrajhar relief camps, the Chief Minister was seen with a Bodo scarf around his neck. In the last 11 years, Gogoi has rarely worn any scarf, not even the traditional Assamese gamchha.
The Chief Minister even endorsed the claim of the Bodo Territorial Council ( BTC) leadership, which runs BTAD, that there could be people from outside the affected areas in the relief camps. “We have told the BTC leadership that there is no space for any illegal immigrants in BTAD areas. Only bonafide land owners will live in BTAD. We have records with us and we will go by those alone,” Gogoi said.
This admission was one of the many U- turns Gogoi has made since violence broke out in the BTAD areas. On July 28, the Chief Minister said: “This is actually a conflict of interest over land. There are no Bangladeshis in this, just Indian citizens.”