Modi wasn't scheduled to visit Assam: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Sarma said that the request of the state government was not accepted by the Prime Minister's Office.

Update: 2020-01-10 19:37 GMT
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (Photo: PTI File)

Guwahati: After failing to create a congenial atmosphere for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to inaugurate the third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma here on Friday said that the PM was never scheduled to inaugurate the event so the question of cancellation of his visit does not rise.

Clarifying that Assam government had invited Mr Modi to inaugurate the event, Mr Sarma said that the request of the state government was not accepted by the Prime Minister’s Office.

It is significant that ongoing anti- Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) movement had also forced the Union government to postpone a Prime Minister-level Indo-Japan submit in Guwahati in December.

Indicating that security agencies had advised the Prime Minister’s Office to avoid visiting Guwahati, security sources said that the reason was obvious as there is not let-up in protests against the CAA in Assam, which have completed one month on Friday.

So far, the state government’s attempts to placate anti-CAA protesters by doling out welfare sche-mes and providing financial assistance to ‘satras’ (Vaishnavite monasteries) and sahitya sabhas have yielded no result.

The All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu), which is leading the protests, has vowed to carry on protests until the Act is scrapped. The Aasu leaders have been reiterating that stu-dy, work, play and protest will continue hand-in-hand. “We will not rest until the Act is scrapped. Students will simultaneously carry on their studies, the movement against CAA, and also play sports now,” said Aasu president Dipanko Kumar Nath. By sports, he was referring to the Khelo India Youth Games, which was kicked off here on Friday.

He added, “We are not opposing Khelo India. But we would have protested vehemently against the Prime Minister visit because we oppose the way he has imposed this Act on the people of Assam.” The Aasu leader said that if the PM remains adamant on the CAA, he would have to face the people’s anger whenever he visits the state.

The Aasu leader asserted, “We will continue our peaceful democratic movement on the streets and also our legal battle in the Supreme Court.”

Though, state government denied media reports indicating that the Aasu’s opposition forced authority to change Prime Minister’s plan to inaugurate Khelo India event, security sources said that in the wake Aasu leaders’ plan to register very strong protest, authorities advised the home ministry to defer the PM’s Assam visit.

The Aasu had even coined a slogan “Khelo India, Bhago Modi” (Play India, run away Modi). Earlier, on Tuesday, Aasu adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjee had told the media in New Delhi that though they were happy that the Khelo India event was happening in Guwahati, they would “stage a massive protest if the PM attends it”.


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