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Cong sounds poll bugle in Assam with massive rally

More than 70,000 Congress supporters from across Assam converged at the Judge's Field in Guwahati for the solidarity rally.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 16:33 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Thousands of supporters of the ruling Congress virtually choked Assam's main city Guwahati Sunday as the party kickstarted its campaign for coming assembly elections with a massive show of strength.

"The overwhelming response today is a precursor to what is in store ahead. Let us all pledge to vote the Congress back to power once again for ushering in all round development and peace in the state," thundered Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi amid loud cheers from the gathering.

More than 70,000 Congress supporters from across Assam converged at the Judge's Field here for the "solidarity rally" that was billed by the party's top leaders as the biggest political congregation in the state in recent times.

"There is no alternative to the Congress. No other government in Assam in the past 30 years did so much development work like we did in just four-and-a-half-years," said Bhubaneswar Kalita, chief of the Assam unit of Congress.

Speakers at the rally launched vitriolic attacks on the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the recently floated United
Democratic Front (UDF), a party formed by 12 Muslim groups backed by the state unit of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.

"The AGP, BJP and UDF are no match for the Congress, and the people of Assam are going to give the opposition a run for their money in the elections," said Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.

Polls to choose a new assembly in Assam are due after April when the term of the current house will end.

Harping on the general improvement in law and order and the success of the central and state governments in brokering peace with some key rebel groups, Gogoi said no other government in the past had sincerely tried to resolve insurgency.

"We are in a ceasefire with the NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland) and the Karbi and Dimasa militant groups, and talks are also on with representatives of the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom)," Gogoi said.

"Did anybody ever try to bring these groups to the negotiating table before?" he asked.

Listing the government's populist schemes, Gogoi said many more such programmes would be made public in the days ahead - all welfare measures for the uplift of the rural masses and for creating more jobs.

The opposition parties were muted in their reaction to the Congress rally. They accused it of using government machinery to bring in people to the meeting.

"The police and civil administration have worked overtime for the success of the rally. This is nothing but misuse of government machinery," AGP president Brindaban Goswami said.

Chief Minister Gogoi, however, remained unfazed.

"I am a party man first and there are no contradictions if some ministers are organising the rally. After all the Congress party is ruling the government," he said.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 16:33 IST