Set to retain power for the third consecutive term, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said bringing all insurgents groups, including the ULFA, to the negotiating table would be his main priority to ensure lasting peace in the State.
“Reaching out to the militant groups and bringing lasting peace would be my priority. We have been trying to bring all the insurgent groups including the ULFA to the negotiating table,” Mr. Gogoi said.
The Congress appears to be inching towards getting majority in the 126-member Assembly as the party was leading in 75 seats.
The Chief Minister, however, said even if Congress gets majority on its own, the alliance partner, the Bodoland Peoples Front, would continue to be part of the government as the party helped Congress in “difficult times.”
“We will continue our alliance with BPF as they had helped us in difficult times,” Mr. Gogoi, who is set to become Chief Minister of the militancy-affected State for the third term, said.
75-year-old Gogoi, who had first become Chief Minister in 2001, said people of Assam voted for the Congress as the party provided “good governance” besides ensuring economic development across the state.
“Economic development won us vote. People have rewarded us for the good work,” Gogoi, who had served as Union Minister from 1991 to 1995, said.
Asked about various corruption charges against his government, he said there were no charges against any minister of his cabinet.
“My government probably is the only government in the country which referred nine—ten corruption cases to the CBI,” he said.
Mr. Gogoi also identified “flood and erosion” as major challenges facing the state and said more attention will be paid to deal with the problem.
Asked about influx of Bangladeshis through the porus border with Bangladesh, Mr. Gogoi admitted infiltration was a “problem” for the state but said the issue has been exaggerated by the opposition parties.
“I took the initiative for increasing border outposts along the border (with Bangladesh). Lot of steps are being taken to check infiltration,” he said.
Mr. Gogoi also rued the “perception” outside the Northeast that Assam is a disturbed area.
“Today Assam is a much peaceful state. But outside perception is that it is a disturbed area,” he said.