Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the previous central governments of neglecting Assam and the North East and reaffirmed his commitment to the state, reported PTI. The prime minister made the comments ahead of the upcoming Assembly election in the state.
“Those who ruled for decades since Independence believed Dispur was too distant from Delhi,” he said. “Delhi is not far now, it stands at your doorstep.”
The prime minister made the statement at the inauguration event of a slew of projects worth over Rs 3,300 crore. Modi alleged that the previous governments adopted a “step-motherly” approach for the state and neglected connectivity, health, education and industry sectors.
He also highlighted the steps taken by the Sarbananda Sonowal-led state government, and the Centre over the past few years, saying that they were working together for the balanced growth of the region.
The prime minister also indicated that the election dates for poll-bound states may be announced in the first week of March, reported the Hindustan Times. “Since the schedule for the last Assembly polls in these states was announced on March 4 [in 2016], it seems the Election Commission will announce the polls any time in the first week of March,” he said.
Modi said that he will try to visit the poll-bound states of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before the Election Commission announces the schedule.
He also called for making Assam “atmanirbhar [self-reliant]”, reported India Today. “Assam’s tea, tourism, handloom and handicraft will strengthen the state’s self-reliance,” the prime minister said. “Earlier I had said that Assam will become the growth engine of [the] North East, now we have seen the reality.”
On February 7, Modi had in Assam’s Dhekiajuli said that he links the development of the state with the condition of tea garden workers. He had also alleged that an international conspiracy was hatched to tarnish the image of Indian tea.
The prime minister was apparently referring to non-governmental organisation Greenpeace’s report about the alleged overuse of pesticides in the Indian tea industry. He had also said the Centre had earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the tea sector in the Union Budget and an assistance of Rs 3,000 was extended to each tea garden worker of Assam.
Modi on Monday stressed that India needs to become self-sufficient and increase its strength and capabilities. He said that the Centre had increased the oil storage capacity for refining over the past years. “Refining capacity has also been increased at Bongaigaon Refinery.”
Modi further said that the world has praised India’s engineers and that the youth of Assam have amazing potential. The prime minister also said that the Centre was working to implement a new education policy in the state. He said with the help of the Ujjwala Scheme, liquefied petroleum gas, or LGP, coverage in Assam stood at nearly 100%, reported The Indian Express. “Till 2014, out of every 100 families, only 55 families had LPG gas connections,” he said. “In Assam, this number stood at 40 even after a refinery was present in the state. With the help of Ujjwala Yojana, LPG coverage in Assam stands at nearly 100% today.”