Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday promised to bring about social transformation in Assam by reviving the Bhakti movement to stop young people from taking up arms, NDTV reported. Shah, who is on a two-day visit to the North East, held a rally in Assam’s Kamrup district as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for the 2021 Assembly elections.

Shah spoke about the BJP’s efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the state. “By signing the Bodoland Territorial Region agreement, the Modi government initiated the process of establishing peace in Assam,” he said, according to ANI. “Bodo youths who had taken up arms have now joined the mainstream.” He claimed that all militant groups in the state have returned to the mainstream, PTI reported.

The Union minister said insurgency in Assam hindered its progress. “There was a time of agitations in Assam, there were movements on different things, hundreds of youth were killed,” Shah said. “The peace of Assam was disturbed and the development was halted.”

He alleged that the Congress party was taking help of separatist elements to return to power in the state, the Hindustan Times reported. “Elections are approaching, once more people with divisive agenda will reappear in a new form, they will try to convince us to take the path of agitation,” he claimed. “I want to question them if their agitation ever brought any development to Assam. The ones who were responsible for firing bullets are indirectly supporting the Congress party. They want to dent BJP’s vote share and want to restore the Congress government’s rule in the state.”

Shah said the Centre considers the North East as the focal point for India’s development. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the North East 30 times within six years and each time, he has come with some gifts,” he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader praised Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for their contribution to the state’s development. “Assam was earlier known for agitations and violence, but Sonowal and Sarma have unified the people of the state and the region with the rest of the country by upholding and promoting heritage and traditions,” Shah said.

He excoriated previous governments and leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for failing to work to develop the state. “Manmohan Singh was MP from Assam for 18 years, but could not solve the problem of eight thousand rupees oil royalty that Assam was supposed to get...we solved it,” he said.

The home minister also said that the results of the Bodoland Territorial Council elections were like the semi-final for the 2021 polls. The BJP, which won one seat in the last elections, made inroads in the state with nine constituencies.

Shah also announced financial help of Rs 2.5 lakh each to 8,000 “namghars” or monasteries in Assam.