Says though Paresh Baruah has warned of violence, he is not as strong as earlier
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday acknowledged the threat of violence from the anti-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) during the coming elections in the State but maintained that his government was capable of tackling it.
“ULFA's topmost military commander Paresh Baruah has threatened violence, particularly against the Congress. But this type of threat he has been making in the past. He is not so strong now. He had good control earlier but I don't think he will be effective now. The vast majority [in the ULFA] is in favour of talks,” Mr. Gogoi told journalists at the Press Club of India.
Just the beginning
“The talks are going in the right direction. This is just the beginning. They [ULFA leaders] had met the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister but then the elections have been announced,” he said, on being asked about the status of talks with the ULFA.
The Assam Chief Minister did not think charges of corruption made against the Centre would influence the electorate of his State.
As regards charges of corruption against his Cabinet, Mr. Gogoi said no specific instance has come to light.
On some instances of corruption in development councils, Mr. Gogoi pointed out that it was because the people at the helm were not adequately trained. The State government had nevertheless referred some of the cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation for an impartial probe.
Explaining the logic behind setting up 18 development councils in Assam over the past decade, the Chief Minister said the intention was to seek Scheduled Tribe status for these groups.
“The Assam government has recommended to the Centre. We are trying our best. Till then, they should at least get the development package. I am all for it [SC status],” he declared.
Pointing out that he had inherited a violent and divided society and an empty Treasury on taking over as Chief Minister, Mr. Gogoi said the situation had changed in five years.
“People wouldn't go out at night. There were secret killings of ULFA family members, all of them innocent, and murdered in connivance with the Government.”
Though it was not easy to retrieve the situation, the Congress strategy was to pay simultaneous attention to law & order as well as development. “Earlier the perception was that development should follow peace. But we took several initiatives at the same time in areas such as health, education and road construction,'' he said.