Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Thursday said voting Prime Minister Narendra Modi back to power would ensure an Assam free of illegal migrants.
He also criticised the Congress for an undeclared poll pact with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) “only to secure” the political future of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s son.
Campaigning for Mani Madhab Mahanta, the candidate of BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), at central Assam’s Kaliabor, Mr Shah said: “We will drive away the infiltrators one by one if you make Modiji the PM again. BJP ousted illegal migrants from Kaziranga, whom the Congress had nurtured. We will do the same to other ghuspethiye (infiltrators) after May 26,” he said.
Much of Kaziranga National Park falls within Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency. The eviction of people – mostly migrant Muslims – in three villages within the park’s buffer zone in September 2016 turned violent, leading to the death of two people in police firing.
Mr Shah took a swipe at the Congress for a secret seat-sharing arrangement with AIUDF in order to further dynastic politics in Assam. “The alliance was done in the interest of Gogoiji’s son,” he said.
He was referring to Gaurav Gogoi, incumbent MP from Kaliabor and the former CM’s son, who is the principal Congress rival of Mr Mahanta. The AGP candidate, ironically, was the brother of Assam Water Resources Minister Keshab Gogoi.
The AIUDF, contesting three seats, had said it did not field candidates in other seats in order not to divide the “secular votes”. Kaliabor has a sizeable support base of the AIUDF.
The BJP chief also came down heavily on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha. “In five years, the BJP did much more for Assam than he had done in 20 years, 10 of those as PM,” he said.
Mr Shah later campaigned for Tapan Kumar Gogoi, Assam minister and the BJP’s candidate for the Jorhat Lok Sabha seat. His main rival was Sushanta Borgohain of the Congress.
Both candidates of the BJP-AGP alliance are former leaders of the All Assam Students’ Union.