Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday asserted why Assam needs the Congress on the road to progress. But his campaigning turned out to be more of a message to the anti-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa).
The prime minister addressed Congress rallies at Dhokuakhana in northeastern Assam and Juria in central Assam amid a near-total shutdown the anti-talks Ulfa faction led by ‘military chief’ Paresh Barua had ‘imposed’. The bandh was against the ruling Congress for “dividing the Ulfa”.
The pro-talks group led by Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa had initiated the peace process in New Delhi in February.
That Singh wanted to reach out to Barua while seeking votes for the Congress was obvious from what he underscored at the public rallies. “The Indian Constitution has enough flexibility to accommodate the aspirations of all communities and do justice to all sections of the society,” Singh told a modest gathering at Juria in Nagaon district.
Barua, believed to be controlling his group’s subversive operations from the Myanmar-China border, had earlier threatened to target Congress leaders and disrupt the assembly elections.
Ulfa figured in the PM’s speech at Dhokuakhana too. “I am happy with the way the peace process is progressing. The Ulfa leaders (Rajkhowa faction) had met me, and we agreed to seek a solution through talks. We have always maintained that the most complex of problems can be solved through dialogue,” he said.
Singh also targeted the Asom Gana Parishad for pushing Assam backward and reminded the voters of the party’s ‘misrule’ that saw employees not being paid their salaries on time.