NEWS DESK: The Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia on Monday staged a sit-in demonstration at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Library building campus of the Assembly to highlight important issues like the vindictive incarceration of KMSS supremo Akhil Gogoi by the state Government, non-release of pending funds to Assam for flood relief and flood management by the Central Government, steep increase in the prices of essential commodities in the state and use of the Covid-19 pandemic for political one-upmanship by the Government. Mr. Saikia demanded immediate steps for the resolution of these crucial issues.
Mr. Saikia was joined in the protest by Lok Sabha MPs Gaurav Gogoi and Abdul Khaleque, Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Bhuyan, MLA Motiur Rahman Mandal, ex-Minister of Assam Siddique Ahmed, KMSS Adviser M.H. Shahjahan and other colleagues. The protesters used protective measures such as wearing of masks, maintaining of social distance and sanitizing of hands during the sit-in.
Regarding Akhil Gogoi, the Leader of the Opposition said that even though the NIA had failed to furnish any proof so far, the BJP-led state Government was slapping case after case upon the KMSS leader because of his resolute opposition to the controversial CAA and other anti-Assam acts of the BJP. Mr. Saikia demanded the immediate release of Gogoi on bail.
The opposition leader pointed out that the Centre had not released any aid to Assam under the NDRF during the last three-four years. He mentioned that Congress leaders of Assam had submitted memoranda to the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister, the Union Water Resources Minister and the DoNER Minister in August last year and requested urgent release of Central funds to tackle the perennial flood problem of Assam. They had urged the Prime Minister to declare Assam’s flood crisis as a ‘National Problem’, but their appeals fell on deaf ears, he said. The result of the Centre’s apathy and the state Government’s timidity in wresting Assam’s dues was that embankments could not be repaired on time and those affected by the ongoing bout of floods are not receiving adequate relief materials.
Mr. Saikia also said that there was ample evidence of the state Government’s failure to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Assam. Apart from the negligence which was exposed in the Guwahati Central Jail, there are countless reports of wrong test results, premature release of COVID-19 patients, faulty implementation of quarantine norms etc from across the state, he said. At the same time, the state Government was trying to gain political mileage out of the situation. The Opposition leaders are being prevented from reaching out to the public on the pretext of COVID-19, but the BJP leaders are being given a free run to interact with the public without maintaining even basic safeguards. As a result, numerous people in certain areas have either been infected by the disease or have had to undergo quarantine after coming into contact with BJP MLAs and other leaders.
Mr. Saikia pointed out that on the one hand the COVID-related lockdowns have deprived countless families of regular income, and on the other hand skyrocketing prices of foodstuff, vegetables, medicines, petrol-diesel etc were compounding the plight of the common man.
The leader of opposition had earlier sought permission from the Commissioner of Police, Guwahati to stage the sit-in protest at the Ganesh Mandir Park premises abutting the Assembly campus, but was denied permission on the plea of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this context, Mr. Saikia stated that the state Government was using contrasting safety measures for ruling party members and Opposition leaders.
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