Kokrajhar/Guwahati: Launching a scathing attack on the Congress government in Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday kicked off the BJP's campaign for the assembly polls, saying the state did not develop much despite a prime minister getting elected from it for 10 years.
Modi said Assam has not developed much despite the 10 years of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule and that the Congress has been in power in the state for about last 15 years. The state assembly elections are due in April this year.
The prime minister first addressed a public rally organised by the Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) and then a Yuva Shakti Sanmilan at Khanapara area in Guwahati.
He also addressed a large gathering of students from different education institutions of the northeast at the IIT Guwahati campus before leaving for New Delhi.
In Kokrajhar, Modi announced the Karbis of the plains will be granted the Scheduled Tribes (ST) status while the the Bodo Kachari community of the hill areas like Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao district will also be granted the ST status soon.
The prime minister, however, cautiously avoided talking about the issue of statehood to Bodoland and the Bodoland Peoples' Front's demand for a Rs.1,000 crore package for development of the Bodo region.
While the BPF has been demanding a special package of Rs.1,000 crore for the four districts of Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD), several other Bodo organisations have demanded that the prime minister make the Centre's stand clear on the issue of statehood to the Bodo lands.
Modi also announced that the Central Institute of Technology (CIT), Kokrajhar, will be upgraded to a Deemed University within a year and more academic and administrative autonomy would be granted to the institute.
He assured the people that the defunct Rupsi airport will be made operational for the Indian Air Force and common people as soon as the land clearance is received from the state government.
He said the Central government is also working on extending the Kanchanjunga Express to Assam's Barak Valley to boost connectivity of the region.
Modi targeted the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre and the ruling Congress government in Assam.
"I was under the impression there is no problem in Assam. Assam is the state from where the prime minister was elected for 10 years. The Congress has ruled the state for the last 15 years. But I am shocked to see the problems and issues here," he said.
"So what has the prime minister, who was elected from the state for 10 years, done? They (the Congress) have not been able to do anything in last 15 years and they (the Congress) want me to do everything in 15 months time. You tell me if it is justified?" said Modi.
"You have seen their 15 years of rule and the 15 months of BJP government in power. We have been working each minute of these 15 months for the betterment of the country," the prime minister said.
Taking a dig at recent Congress campaigns against him, Modi said: "Delhi has started asking for accounts of each penny given to the states. I was told when the Centre releases Re.1 only 15 paise of it reaches the villages. So, where does the money go? The Centre has started asking for the accounts. Thus, many do not like me these days," he said.
Modi also laid the foundation stone of IIIT at the IIT Guwahati and addressed a large gathering of students. He said India has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world and that the 21st century belongs to India.
"We have 65 percent of young people in India, those who are below 35 years of age group. With so much of young people, India has the talent and potential to change the existing situation," he said while encouraging the students to go for more innovative work in different fields so that the country can have a unique place in the entire world.
"In Silicon Valley, the address is of the US but most of the faces there are of Indians. It is the young people from India who have occupied more than 50 percent of the Silicon Valley. With so much of IITs, IIITs, and other distinguished institutions in India, we must think of innovation, new researches and new technologies in different fields, so that we can make our place in the entire world," he said.