Allegations Poured on Indian Premier
By Nava Thakuria
As India is embracing the election time in five provinces, the ruling Congress party is facing a hard time. Even the prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh faces the heat and the recent attack came from the opposition leaders as well as a banned separatist organization. The soft spoken premier is alleged to be insensitive to his state of residency, where he should have gone for voting in the recently concluded polls. Moreover, the permanent residential place of Dr. Singh is also being dragged into controversy.After the general election in 2009, Indian provinces including Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry go for elections, with results due in the middle of May. The incumbent Congress government hopes for good results out of the peace initiative card and development, while opposition parties tried to woo voters by highlighting the Congress-led central government's corruption relating to the Commonwealth Games, 2G spectrum and Adarsh Society scam.At least in Assam and Puducherry, Congress is fighting to regain power, whereas the party is expected to increase its tally in West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Around 15 core electorates are expected to vote for their preferred candidates in these elections. The counting of ballots from all provinces is due on May 13.Officially the prime minister Dr Singh represents Assam in the upper house of the Indian Parliament. The northeastern State had gone for polling on April 4 and 11. By virtue of his residency, Dr. Singh was supposed to come to Guwahati to exercise his franchise. But he did not turn up.This gave an ample opportunity for the firebrand opposition party leader Narendra Modi to criticize Dr Singh as being insensitive to the exercise.The Bharatiya Janata Party leader and the chief minister of Gujarat went on to say that he was pained to know that the premier did not come to Assam to cast his vote in the second and final phase of elections on April 11.“Dr Singh and his wife are registered as voters in the Dispur constituency of Assam. As a responsible citizen of the country, he should have arrived there for voting. But ignoring this important duty, he has sent the wrong signal to the new generation,” the Gujarat chief minister asserted, while addressing a public rally in Gandhinagar recently.Congress, however, rejected the allegation and clarified that the prime minister had to leave for China and Kazakhstan on April 12 and hence he could not be in Assam the previous day. The party also stated that Dr Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur exercised his franchise through postal ballots.But controversy related to his residency in Assam remained as a young Assamese political leader Pradyut Bora argued that it was big lie. The intelligent BJP leader even claimed that ‘his Rajya Sabha membership is based on a lie’ and so thus his premiership.Days back, the banned United Liberation Front of Assam also accused Dr. Singh as being a liar because of his official residential address in Guwahati. The militant outfit, which is fighting the Indian Union government for a Swadhin Asom, argued that the economist turned politician actually hails from Punjab State in north India and shows a rented house in Guwahati to contest for Rajya Sabha polls from Assam.Officially Dr Singh, who was born in Gah (Punjab of Pakistan) is a permanent resident of Assam and his address is shown in the government document as House No 3989, Nandan Nagar, Sarumotoria, Dispur, Guwahati, Assam-781006.All these arrangements were made by the then Assam chief minister Hiteswar Saikia in 1991 to facilitate Dr Singh reaching the upper house of Indian Parliament as a Congress nominee. In the PV Narasimha Rao government, Dr Singh served as the Union finance minister and introduced initiatives for greater liberalization of the Indian economy.Since then the Oxford doctorate economist remains a Rajya Sabha member from Assam. Incidentally, he became the prime minister instead of the Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi. After the general election in 2009, Dr Singh, though he did not contest in the Lok Sabha election, became Prime Minister for the second consecutive time.The ULFA hardliners called for Assam Bandh (shutdown or total non-cooperation) on April 2 to protest against the visit of Dr. Singh to Assam for poll campaigning ahead of 126 State Legislative Assembly elections. In an e-mail statement issued by the ULFA (Paresh Barua faction), it was alleged that Dr Singh had made enough useless promises to the people of Assam. The last being the promise he made to 'discuss all core issues for the political solution of Assam-India conflict’. Nothing has materialized.The 12-hour bandh may have made an impact on the State. The shut down was almost total in Brahmaputra valley and was partially effective in the Barak valley of Assam. The roads wore a deserted look as there was little traffic and also shops were closed, though the train and air services operated as usual.The armed group, which has maintained a war against New Delhi for three decades, earlier called for a day long Assam bandh on March 28, the day Dr. Singh initially planned to visit the State. Suddenly Dr. Singh’s visit was postponed and the outfit too withdrew their bandh call immediately.
|Dr. Manmohan Singh, |
Indian prime minister
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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a Special Correspondent for The Seoul
Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes
articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove,
and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org