Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma bullies his fellow North East CMs for TRP ratings, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said here today.
Taking a dig at the BJP’s Sarma, Gogoi, who is also the chairman of the Congress Election Screening Committee, said that Sarma feels anxious if he does not see his name mentioned enough in the newspapers or is not featured on TV news channels.
Gogoi made the biting statement during a press conference after meeting with aspiring candidates for the upcoming Meghalaya Assembly election. The Congress leaders present also responded to queries on the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute.
Gogoi opined that Sarma sometimes arm-twists his fellow CMs into signing something they do not want to so that he can show that he has achieved something. “I don’t know whether this applies in this particular case but I hear that often that is the case… So, chief ministers of other states have to be strong and champion their own people and their own land and not be arm-twisted by those sitting in Dispur or those sitting in Delhi,” he added.
Gogoi added that state boundaries cannot be simply decided by two CMs sitting in a private room because those decisions affect hundreds if not thousands of people living in those areas and it is they who need to be taken into confidence.
Asked why Congress never touched the issue when they were ruling both states as well as the central government, Gogoi said that they might have not resolved the issue but they did not have this level of bad blood and this level of distrust.
“We agreed to disagree. There were strong chief ministers on both sides and they always said that this matter needs to be resolved and there was a very cordial atmosphere. Now, we get a sense of bad blood that did not exist in the Congress time and I think that is quite detrimental and that just shows the mismanagement of the boundary issue in North East India, which is so complex and it is being treated so lightly,” Gogoi added.
The agreement signed between the two states in March last year was a mere photo opportunity, the MP said, as the Mukroh Massacre (where five Meghalaya civilians were shot dead by Assam police on Meghalaya soil) in November made plain.
“You have these two state chief ministers signing agreements and then you have on the border again conflict and shooting. I think it’s highly unfortunate, it’s condemnable and it’s a failure of both governments and a failure of both chief ministers and it shows how that the signing was just a photo opp,” he said.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Congress president and Shillong MP Vincent Pala said that his party prefers a boundary commission to resolve the issue.
“The commission will go to the village level, will meet the headmen and all stakeholders and then take a decision…It is not like what the MDA government has done – just going there to meet a few of their supporters and presenting a signed agreement,” Pala said, adding that it would three or four years of detailed work rather than a few months that the state government put in.