Leader of Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia in a statement has said that now that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has acknowledged on the floor of the Rajya Sabha that Late Rajiv Gandhi paved the way and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did the bulk of the work for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, but alleged that the BJP is spreading misinformation on the Congress role in the foreigners’ issue.
“In its desperate bid to put a question mark against the Congress’ positive role in smoothening the path for detection of illegal migrants in Assam by updating the NRC of 1951, some specialist in misinformation has publicised a dubious WikiLeaks cable of 2006 which quoted an anonymous Kolkata-based US Consulate officer as having reported that the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi had assured minorities at an election rally in Assam in May, 2006 that the Congress would amend the Foreigners’ Act to ‘prevent deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’. This is twisting of facts taken to a new low,” Saikia said.
Saikia further said first of all, there was no election rally in Assam in May, 2006. The Assembly elections had concluded in April, 2006 and the results were declared on May 11, 2006. So, there is no question of Gandhi or any other leader for that matter, addressing an election rally in Assam in May, 2006.
“The fact is that Gandhi did indeed address an election rally at Neherubali in Nagaon on April 6, 2006. It is also a fact that she did talk about changes being effected by the UPA Government in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964. However, she specifically stressed that the motive behind the changes was to ensure prevention of harassment of minorities as suspected foreigners,” Saikia clarified.
Saikia, who is also the Nazira MLA, said that keeping in view the fate suffered by people such as Subrat Dey, Ganesh Das, Bishnu Prasad Khanal, Abu Taher and Md Rafikul Islam (both grandnephews of the first Deputy Speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly, Moulavi Muhammad Amiruddin) in recent times, was it fair or logical to fault Sonia Gandhi for having displayed foresight at that point?
It is important to note that The Assam Tribune newspaper had reported Gandhi’s rally under the headline ‘Cong against influx of foreigners: Sonia’. In its edition, dated April 7, 2006, The Assam Tribune, quoted Gandhi as having said: “We don’t support infiltration of foreigners. Government is formed by the will of the people and our government will care for the interest of the people.” Yet, this categorical statement is now being hushed up and a mangled version is being publicized in order to defame the Congress, the statement said.