Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, April 3: Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed on Wednesday that if the party comes power, there will be a “surgical strike on poverty” where people from all communities, religion, caste or creed will have access to the proposed Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) scheme that plans to give INR 6000 every month to poor families with an income of less than INR 12,000 a month.
The Congress president said this during an election rally at the jam-packed Dimapur District Sports Council (DDSC) stadium in Dimapur on April 3. Nagaland will go to the polls in a single phase on April 11.
However, Congress candidate for the lone parliamentary seat of Nagaland, KL Chishi didn’t speak at the event, raising many eyebrows. Congress veteran and former chief minister SC Jamir also didn’t address the crowd though he was present at the function.
Taking a jab at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress President said that Modi had taken the people’s money and given it to rich industrialists and businessmen likes Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi.
“We are going to prove that the money Modi gave to the richest in India can be given back to the poorest of all in the country,” claimed Gandhi. Besides guaranteeing financial support to the poor, he accused the BJP and RSS of trying to impose “one vision and one idea” on India where there is a conflict between two ideologies.
“Who do they think they are and come to the people of Nagaland and tell them to live their way?” he asked with regard to the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) issue.
The Modi government, he said, is attacking (Northeast region) with the CAB; has taken away the special status, planning commission and the industrial policy. “We gave special status to the Northeast because we saw its unique challenges and problems that require it; we will defend your culture and strengths, and there will be no compromise on that,” assured Gandhi.
“Every speech of Modi is a precondition where he promises before elections but I will stand with you whether I am PM or not,” he said.
Gandhi further attacked the Modi government of derailing the country’s economy by failing to strengthen it.
“We will start to curate more jobs not only for Nagaland but for the country and we will take the banking system back from Ambani,” said Gandhi. In this connection, he said that any entrepreneur planning to open a business will not have to take any permission from any government department for three years as is the case in Nagaland to avoid running from one department to another to open any business venture.
However, he made only a passing mention of the burning Naga political issue while he spent much time on launching a scathing attack on the BJP.
He told the crowd that “we will work together with all stakeholders and will try to give a resolution as soon as possible.”
“Feel no fear and feel comfortable; we will work together to ensure that nobody challenges and attacks the spirit of the Nagas,” said Gandhi.
The Congress leader concluded by promising that his party will help Nagaland with the roads and infrastructure, especially with the “huge potential” the state has being linked with the look east policy.
The rally also saw leader of opposition, TR Zeliang of the Naga people’s front (NPF) sharing the stage with the Congress leaders from the state.
“I have full confidence in KL Chishi who cannot be influenced by any individual to go against the interest of the Nagas,” Zeliang told the crowd, adding that Chishi would fight against the CAB if elected.
He attacked incumbent MP Tokheho Yepthomi of NDPP, saying that he won the election with a “thumping majority” but intentionally stayed away from the Parliament on the voting day of the CAB. “Let us prove that Nagas are not fools to repeat the same mistake by sending the same NDPP candidate to parliament again,” he said.
The former chief minister also said that the resolution of Naga political issue is the gateway for investment both from within and outside the country. “22 years of negotiation between the GoI and NSCN/GPRN; and now joined by seven Naga political groups is long enough,” he said.
Re-examine, modify AFSPA – KG Kenye
Rajya Sabha MP KG Kenye said at the election rally that CAB is the most contentious issue faced by Northeast as it attacks ethnic community. He said that BJP, by virtue of being the majority, passed the bill in the Lok Shaba ‘arrogantly with brute force.’ “With the same force, they attempted to pass the bill in Rajya Shaba,” he added.
“This (CAB) is an attack on Article 14, which guarantees equality and justice to the citizens of the country,” he asserted. “Unfortunately, we have a BJP government that is insensitive and immune to the feeling of the people in certain part of this country,” he said while adding the statement of union minister of Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju that the BJP-led government in Itanagar had withdrawn the CAB ‘respecting the sentiments of the people of Northeast.’
Kenye also produced the ‘list of business’ that was tabled in the Rajya Shaba on February 12 and 13th, and claimed that the Congress MPs along with 21 other opposition members of India had stalled the proceedings of the house to ensure that it was not introduced in the house during the parliamentary session. “On February 13, they put it as a supplementary and brought it again. Till the last moment, they made attempts to push the bill through,” he explained.
“After it failed, BJP president Amit Shah, on February 14 stated in Lakhimpur that if their party comes back to power, they will ensure the passage of this bill,” he continued.
Based on the open declaration made by the BJP, Kenye questioned the audience whether to choose the ‘communal forces and parties or the secular democratic party.’
The MP also expressed hope that Rahul Gandhi will pay attention for early solution of Naga-political issue; enhancement of the NNC; re-examining and modifying Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA); and CAB issue. He was confident that the NPF will extend its utmost support to ensure that the Congress candidate ‘returns as an MP.’
We have lost freedom of religion – K Therie
President of Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC), K Therie was all praise for Rahul Gandhi, saying that his elevation in the party leadership ignited hope of the people.
While the priority of the people of Nagaland during the Congress rule was about early political solution, Therie stated that the present priority of the citizens of Nagaland is to remove the CAB and restore secularism.
“Under the BJP rule, we have lost freedom of religion and our identity is under threat,” he lamented and added that Nagaland, despite having small population and geographical size, its people’s ‘identity cannot be compromised.’
Therie recalled the time when the former prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi offered talk ‘without precondition’ on May 19 1991. He appreciated the difficulties of negotiation but said “peace and negotiation without solution is unreasonable to the people.”
“If you (Rahul) are given opportunity to rule India, we want you to carry forward the political negotiation for a final political solution,” he added.
Therie expressed his appreciation stating that, for the first time in Nagaland, NPF and Congress have come together to strengthen the secular forces in the state.
BJP is just playing a game of football with us – Khekiye Sema
The member of NPCC and former bureaucrat, Khekiye Sema, said that the important decision to be made in the parliamentary election is to put ideology forward and not any political parties. He claimed that the BJP is governing the country under RSS policy.
“RSS is the real driver who is steering BJP under its policy while BJP administers the NDPP,” he said.
Claiming that BJP is against secularism, Sema said Congress respected all the minorities during its rule in the past. Talking about the BJP’s failure to solve the Naga issue, Sema said “Being in the majority, BJP is just playing a game of football with us.”
He also expressed confidence that Rahul Gandhi will carry on the legacy left by his grandmother and former prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, and take up Naga issue as a priority.
NPF is impulsively supporting the Congress – Pushika Awomi
Former president of Naga Students’ Federation, Pushika Awomi said the NPF is impulsively supporting the Congress in the form of ‘issue-based support.’ Based on the theory prophesised by various scientists about the annual 4 degree annual rise in global temperature, Awomi cautioned of a ‘possible exodus’ if Bangladesh gets submerged in the ocean by 2050 if global warming is not controlled.
Terming AFPSA as a “draconian law,” Awomi said “it is nothing but a repetition of a British law to contain and to suppress the indigenous people.” He also appreciated the Congress for deciding to fight for the current issues faced by the Nagas, especially the youths.
Speaking about Naga political issue about AFPSA, Awomi termed the act as “Draconian law.” “It is nothing but a repetition of a British law to contain and to suppress the indigenous people,” he said.
Awomi express appreciation to Congress for deciding to fight for the current issues faced by the Nagas, especially the youths. He encouraged the people to support the government and requested the youths to continue to follow the same thread as they are doing.