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Rahul pledges to restore special status to north-eastern states

By PTI Updated: Mar 19, 2019 11:51 pm
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with party supporters during a public meeting, in Itanagar, Tuesday. (PTI)

Itanagar, March 19 (PTI): The Congress will restore special category status to all states of the Northeast if voted to power at the Centre, party president Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday, reaching out to the electors of the region where it is a sensitive issue.

He also accused the BJP of trying to destroy the social and cultural ethos of the people of the Northeast by imposing on them the “RSS ideology”.

Addressing a Congress rally in the run up to the Lok Sabha and Arunachal Pradesh assembly polls to be held simultaneously, Gandhi sought to appeal to the regional sentiments, saying his party will never “attack the language, culture, customs and traditions” of the north-eastern states.

“The people of the region are close to Congress’s heart. The Congress has always worked for the development of the region. My party, if voted to power, will restore the special category status to Arunachal Pradesh and other states in the Northeast,” he told a well attended rally at Indira Park here.

The Congress party’s last standing citadel in the Northeast fell in November last year when BJP ally Mizo National Front stormed to power in the state.

There are some states which require special status because of their “unique problems and difficulties” such as connectivity, terrain and infrastructure, he said. Gandhi said these states had special status when the Congress helmed the central government.

The Congress president called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s slogan of “Congress mukt Bharat” an expression of “hatred” towards the main opposition party.

“However, the Congress being a secular party would not even want the BJP finished,” he said.

Accusing the BJP-led central government of imposing “RSS ideology” across the country, including the Northeast, Gandhi alleged ineligible people with Sangh family background were appointed as vice chancellors.

Touching upon yest another sensitive issue of Citizenship (amendmdent) Bill, Gandhi said his party will never allow it to be passed by Parliament as it is detrimental to the people of the region.

“We will not allow the suppression of the people of the Northeast,” he asserted.

“After the NDA government came to power, the Planning Commission, which was set up for meticulously planned development, keeping in mind the special requirements of the region, was replaced with Niti Aayog.

“Earlier, all schemes for north-eastern states were planned in due consultation with the respective state governments, but now all planning is done in Delhi,” he added.

Noting that Arunachal Pradesh has a special place in the Congress’s scheme of things, Gandhi said his party wants a “bonding of hearts” with the people of the north-eastern state.

The Congress leader promised his party will give a fresh impetus to infrastructure development in Arunachal Pradesh if voted to power.

He also pledged to revive the Special Plan Assistance (SPA) scheme and North East Industrial Policy for giving a boost to the region’s economy.

Reaffirming the Congress’s commitment to providing ‘Guaranteed Minimum Income’ to every citizen, Gandhi claimed that instead of giving loans to the unemployed youth of Arunachal Pradesh, the Modi government wrote off the INR 3.5 lakh crore debt of a handful of industrialists.

He dubbed as a “blantant lie” the BJP’s promise of creating two crore jobs a year. “Instead, there are more than two crore unemployed youth now,” he said.

Polling for the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh assembly and the state’s two Lok Sabha seats will be held on April 11.

Rahul arrives in Manipur; to address public meeting today

Our Correspondent

Imphal, March 19 (EMN):  Congress president Rahul Gandhi who is on two-day visit for the Lok Sabha poll campaign arrived here in Imphal on Tuesday evening.

The national congress leader is scheduled to interact with the students at Manipur Film Development Corporation auditorium in Imphal East district followed by a public address at Hapta Kangjeibung at Palace gate in Imphal East district on Wednesday.

Soon after his arrival at the Imphal International airport around 5 pm, Gandhi drove to Congress Bhavan to pay floral tribute at the Saheed Minar which was located on the eastern portion of historic Mapal Kangjeibung in Imphal.

Later, he attended an extended meeting with Pradesh Congress Committee members.

Prior to the meeting, he also had an interaction with the party’s unit presidents of the assembly constituencies.

Earlier in the day, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and former chief minister O Ibobi Singh and Congress Working Committee member Gaikhangam  who is also the president   of the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee along with senior congress legislators inspected the preparation for  public meeting at Hapta Kangjeibung premises.

It may b noted that Congress is yet to announce the names of its candidates for the Lok Sabha polls which are scheduled to be held here on April 11 and 18 next.

Names of the candidates will be announced after tomorrow’s meeting, party source said.

The last date for filing nomination for the Lok Sabha polls in manipur is March 25 and 26.

By PTI Updated: Mar 19, 2019 11:51:58 pm