Most corrupt CM, says Rahul Gandhi in Assam; Himanta Biswa Sarma hits back | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Most corrupt CM, says Rahul Gandhi in Assam; Himanta Biswa Sarma hits back

Jan 18, 2024 06:47 PM IST

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma responded to Rahul’s attack, saying the Gandhi family was “the most corrupt family in the country”

GUWAHATI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday stepped up his attack on Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government soon after the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered Assam, describing Sarma as the “most corrupt” chief minister, an accusation that drew a swift and sharp counter from Sarma who called the Gandhi family, the country’s most corrupt.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, on Thursday (PTI VIA @INCIndia)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, on Thursday (PTI VIA @INCIndia)

“The government in Assam is one of the most corrupt. You are all aware of it. We will highlight it during our yatra… probably Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is the most corrupt,” Gandhi, 53, said soon after the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered Assam from Nagaland on Thursday.

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The yatra started from Tuli in Nagaland early on Thursday before entering Assam at Haluating in Sivasagar district around 9am. From there, it moved to Jorhat district where Gandhi will spend the night before proceeding to Majuli district on Friday morning.

“Not just him (Himanta), Sarma’s wife and other family members are mired in corruption. He thinks that he can buy the people of Assam, but he is wrong” Gandhi added. The Wayanad MP also repeated his attacks on the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, accusing them of spreading hatred in the country and make followers of one religion fight with the other.

“Their aim is to make the public fight and then loot their money,” he said, presenting the yatra as a sharp contrast. The yatra, he added, was inspired by the teachings of Srimanta Sankardev, the 15th-16th century saint-scholar and socio-religious reformer from Assam who sought to unite all communities of the state.

Sarma, who exited the Congress in 2014 and is widely credited for playing a key role in the BJP’s expansion in the northeast, hit back within hours. “According to me, the most corrupt family in the country is that of the Gandhis,” Sarma told reporters.

“From the Bofors scam to allowing (Warren) Anderson (of Union Carbide) to flee the country after the Bhopal gas tragedy, they are responsible for all. They are not just corrupt, but duplicate as well,” Sarma said.

Sarma, who has been accusing the yatra led by Rahul Gandhi of being against the Hindus, on Thursday said the yatra was meant only for ‘miyas’ (a reference for Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam with origins in Bangladesh) and said that only some people from that community will go to attend Gandhi’s events in the state.

Rahul Gandhi’s yatra hit the headlines minutes after crossing into the state when his specially designed bus didn’t stop at Amguri in Sivasagar district where a woman Congress leader, who was expelled from the party in 2023 for six years, was sitting on the roadside along with hundreds of supporters seeking ‘nyay’, or justice.

Angkita Dutta, daughter of a late Congress minister and the former chief of the Assam chief of Indian Youth Congress, was expelled from the party last year after she filed a police complaint against IYC national president Srinivas BV accusing him of harassment.

“I was expelled from the party without hearing my side of the story. I’ve been in exile for 10 months now and have not joined any other party. I was hoping to meet Gandhi and get justice, But that didn’t happen,” Dutta told reporters.

Assam Congress chief Bhupen Borah attributed motives for her protest. “She (Dutta) has become a victim of a political conspiracy. Everyone knows that I had assured her of providing justice at our party platform. But the next day chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that if she files a police complaint, he will ensure justice and Dutta lodged her police complaint. Now it’s a matter of investigation and sub judice issue and we can’t intervene in it. We will accept whatever judgement the court gives,” said Borah.

Dutta, the eldest daughter of late Anjan Dutta, a former Congress minister from Assam, had been grilled by both the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2022 for her alleged involvement in the Saradha Group financial scam.

The 6,700 km long yatra in hybrid mode (on foot and by bus) which started from Thoubal in strife-torn Manipur on Sunday will culminate in Mumbai on March 20 after passing through 15 states.

Gandhi’s yatra did stop at a pachayat office in Mariani of Jorhat district where application forms for a welfare scheme to promote entrepreneurship among women self-help group (SHG) members were being distributed.

As the dates of issue of the forms, which would help nearly 3.9 million applicants get 10,000 each in the first year, clashed with the Assam leg of the yatra, the Congress unit in Assam alleged that it was a deliberate move by the state’s BJP-led government to try and keep women away from coming to Gandhi’s event.

“The Assam government tried to keep women away from meeting Gandhi, but he chose to go and meet them instead. They are very happy and are thanking Gandhi for the yatra as they feel if he hadn’t visited Assam, the state government might not have announced the scheme,” said Assam Congress president Bhupen Borah.


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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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