Himanta Biswa Sarma sworn in as Assam CM, pledges NRC re-verification
Himanta Biswa Sarma took oath as the 15th chief minister of Assam in a ceremony in Guwahati on Monday, pledging to control surging coronavirus infections and partially verify the contentious National Register of Citizens.
“My aim will be to make Assam one of the top five Indian states in the next five years. We want to take development to newer heights and bring peace among all castes, creeds and communities,” the 52-year-old said in his first press conference as chief minister.
Sarma, who served as the finance minister in the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government, urged outlawed outfits to join the peace process and said he will focus on fulfilling promises such as 100,000 jobs, loan waiver, and flood control.
Sarma said that, as promised by the BJP in its poll manifesto, the government will seek reverification of the National Register of Citizens, which documents all legal Indian citizens in Assam and excluded 1.9 million people when it was released in 2019.
“Our view on NRC is very clear. We want 20% re-verification of the list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% re-verification in other districts. If after that, NRC is found to be correct, the state government would accept it and take the process forward. But if NRC is found faulty even after re-verification, we would want the Supreme Court to view this issue critically,” Sarma said.
He added that his government will enact laws on “love jihad”, a term used by right-wing groups to describe unions between Muslim men and Hindu women, and “land jihad”, a term used to describe “outsiders” encroaching upon land owned by indigenous tribes.
Thirteen ministers were also sworn in by governor Jagdish Mukhi in the ceremony attended by BJP president JP Nadda and others. “Congratulations to @himantabiswa ji and the other ministers who took oath today. I am confident this team will add momentum to the development journey of Assam and fulfil aspirations of the people,” tweeted Prime Minister Narenda Modi.
Sarma assured the people of a proactive government that will work for them round the clock. “You will see a proactive government which will be there for you at all times. We will try and resolve all pending issues,” he told journalists .
He said the first cabinet meeting on Tuesday would focus on the Covid-19 situation in the state. “Daily cases in Assam have crossed 5,000. The situation in Assam will affect other northeastern states as well,” he said.
On granting scheduled tribe (ST) status to Ahoms, Koch-Rajbongshis, Moran, Motok, Sutias and tea-tribe, Sarma said the government will try and resolve the issue through talks and without affecting the rights of tribes already under the ST ambit.