Will defend interest of Nagas: Rahul

Will defend interest of Nagas: Rahul
(L) Rahul Gandhi addressing the public meeting at DDSC Stadium (R) A section of the crowd at the rally. (PTI/NP)
Staff Reporters DIMAPUR, APR 3 (NPN) | Publish Date: 4/3/2019 11:09:34 AM IST

 ASSURES TO restore whatever BJP REMOVED from NE STATES

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday assured the Naga people that his party will defend Naga culture, language, religion and way of life from the onslaught of BJP and RSS and to never compromise on it. 

Addressing a mammoth public rally at DDSC stadium here, Gandhi pointed out that the country was facing a conflict between two ideologies – “BJP, RSS and Narendra Modi on one side and Congress party and all other forces that are fighting this ideology”. 

Accusing Modi and RSS of wanting to impose “one vision and one idea” on India, Rahul said Congress party however believed that every single part of the country had their own unique culture, beliefs and history and that India was home to different cultures.

Rahul asserted that Congress did not believe in an India where Nagaland had no voice, where Naga people were not allowed to look back proudly at their history and where Naga people were not allowed to express themselves. “Congress party and me will not allow the spirit, history, way of thinking, religion and language of Naga people to be crushed. We simply are not going to allow it,” he declared.

He questioned BJP-RSS combine as to who gave them the right to impose their ideology on Nagas and other communities of the Northeast? “Who do these people think they are? Who do they think they are that they can come to Nagaland and the Northeast and tell its people how to live their lives?” he asked.

Rahul Gandhi said Naga history, culture and proud heritage were not only the strength of the Naga people, but also India’s. “We are going to defend your culture, language, religion and your way from this onslaught. There is going to be no compromise on that,” he said.

In his nearly 35-minute speech, Gandhi also accused Modi government of favouring Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi, who are all embroiled in fraud cases. He accused Modi, who claims to be “chowkidar” (watchman), of illegally favouring Anil Ambani over Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the controversial Rafale deal. Hitting out strongly against Prime Minister Modi for allegedly making false promises to people by giving new commitments every time he speaks, Rahul Gandhi also accused Modi of always setting a “precondition” that he would deliver if he was made Prime Minister. 

Gandhi remarked “for Modi, everything is a precondition”. He said Modi promised two crore jobs to the people, deposit Rs 15 lakh in every individual’s bank account only if they made him the Prime Minister. 

Rahul said that unlike Modi, he would never set such precondition adding, “when you need Rahul Gandhi, whether he is Prime Minster or not, you will find him standing with you” amid loud cheers and thunderous applause from the crowd.

Rahul also spoke about his party’s ambitious proposal for minimum income guarantee scheme or “Nyay” (justice) that promises to grant Rs 72,000 per annum to the poorest 20% families of the country earning less than Rs 12,000 per month. 

Criticizing the BJP-led NDA government on the issue of contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), he assured the people that Congress would not allow the Bill as it was a threat to the people of the Northeast and the idea of India as a country.

Encouraging Naga people not to fear the “attacks” of Modi, RSS and BJP in the form of CAB, Rahul promised that his party would work to ensure that nobody ever challenged or attacked the culture, language, spirit and religion of the Naga people.

He also came down hard on the Modi government for scrapping special category status and the industrial policy for the North-eastern States and for “destroying” Planning Commission.

He promised that if Congress was voted to power in 2019, he will restore both the status. “The moment we come to power in 2019, special status and the industrial policy for the Northeast will be given back to you,” he said. Commenting on road conditions in Nagaland, Gandhi jokingly said he was told that Naga people remained fit due to the physical strain endured while commuting. He assured to improve the road infrastructure of the State.

Will work together with stakeholders to resolve Naga issue: On the Naga issue, Rahul Gandhi has assured the Nagas to work together with all stakeholders of Naga political issue and try and deliver a solution. Referring to the decades-old Naga political issue, Rahul said the issue touched the Nagas “very deeply” and that it was “complex”.

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi said he wanted to make a “clear commitment” to Nagas and not just mouth “empty words” like Modi. “I want to give you a commitment that I will work together with all the stakeholders. I will listen to all the stakeholders. With love and affection, I will work with the stakeholders and try to give you a solution for the Naga political issue as soon as possible,” he added.

Emphasizing on his assurances, Rahul said, “I will not give you empty promises, but I will give you my commitment that whatever I can do to help resolve this difficult issue, I will work with all stakeholders and try and deliver a solution.”

Zeliang, Kenye, Therie for early solution; scrapping of CAB: Speaking at the Congress election rally, opposition NPF leader and former chief minister, T.R. Zeliang asked Gandhi to accord “highest priority” to resolve Naga political issue at the earliest possible time, if and when Congress comes to power at the Centre.

Stating that 22 years of negotiation of the peace process between Government of India and NSCN/GPRN which was now joined by WC of NNPGs was long enough, Zeliang said there was no problem that could not be resolved if the parties understood each other’s difficulties. 

Zeliang also appreciated Congress for vehemently opposing CAB in Parliament and ultimately managing to stop the Bill in Rajya Sabha. He said the people of Northeast, particularly Nagas, were grateful for the “wise decision” of Congress to protect the rights of the minorities in India.

“In a democracy, the majority will rule, but the rights of the minority must never be sidelined,” he stressed. He told the crowd that NPF, though the single largest political party in the State, had decided not to field a candidate but instead support INC candidate KL Chishi. He said this was with the aim of forming a “combined secular force to defeat the candidate of communal forces openly working against the rights and identity of the Naga people”.

Rajya Sabha member KG Kenye, who spoke at the rally, said the contentious issue faced by the Northeast was CAB as it had put survival of the people of the region at stake. He said the Bill was an attack on the ethnic communities, “the indigenous population comprising tribal groups and sons of the soil of the region”.

Kenye also accused BJP of being insensitive to the feelings of people in certain parts of the country. He asked the crowd whether they wanted to stand with a “communal” party (BJP) or a “secular democratic” party. The MP also urged Congress to solve the decades-old Naga political issue urgently, remove CAB and revisit the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts, if it was voted to power at the Centre.

Earlier, delivering a welcome address, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president K Therie urged the Congress president to carry forward the negotiation for a final political solution, if the party was voted to power at the Centre. He said though Nagas appreciated the difficulties and realities of negotiations, several years of negotiations without a solution appeared unreasonable to them.

Condemning the BJP-led NDA government for introducing CAB, Therie said it was a threat to Naga identity and that the Congress was committed to stall CAB and restore the “secularism” in the country.

The programme was chaired by NPCC working president Bobby Panikar, invocation prayer by pastor L Lipok Jamir.  Rahul was accompanied by AICC general secretary in-charge of north east, Luizinho Faleiro.

Prior to Rahul’s arrival at the stadium, party leaders and members of both Congress and NPF addressed the rally. The rally was also attended by a host of NPF legislators, former chief minister and governor Dr. S.C. Jamir, NPF and Congress functionaries, Dimapur District GBs Association members and INC candidate, KL Chishi.

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