Kokrajhar (Assam), Jan 19: Avoiding the statehood issue and the Rs.1,000 crore package demand for the Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said no stone would be left unturned to develop Assam's Bodo-inhabited lands.
The prime minister was addressing a public rally organised by the Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) at Kokrajhar town in Assam.
Stating that the Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD) will be developed like any other part of the country, the prime minister said he has three-point programme for the development of the backward BTAD region -- "development, development and development".
He said while the Karbis of the plains will be granted the Scheduled Tribes (ST) status, the Bodo Kachari community of the hill areas like Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao district will also be granted the ST status soon.
Tuesday's rally assumes significance ahead of Assam legislative assembly polls as it has indicated a pre-poll alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the BPF, which is ruling at the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) that runs the administration in four district of the BTAD.
The BPF was a partner of the ruling Congress in Assam since its inception in 2003 but it severed its ties with the Congress in 2014 over some differences.
The prime minister, however, on the occasion cautiously avoided the issue of statehood to Bodoland and the BPF's demand for a Rs.1,000 crore package for development.
He announced that the Central Institute of Technology (CIT), Kokrajhar, will be upgraded to a Deemed University within a year and more academic and administrative autonomy would be granted to the institute.
"I was told that there is an airport here, which has not been in use for a long time. I assure you that as soon as the state government settles the issue of giving the land for the airport, the Rupsi airport will be opened for the Indian Air Force as well as for the common people," Modi said while addressing the massive rally.
He said the Central government is also working on extending the Kanchanjunga Express to Assam's Barak Valley to boost connectivity of the region.
Modi also targetted the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and the ruling Congress government in Assam.
"I was under the impression there is no problem in Assam. Assam is the state from where the prime minister was elected for 10 years. The Congress has ruled the state for the last 15 years," Modi said.
"But I am shocked to see the problems and issues here. So what has the prime minister, who was elected from the state for 10 years, done?"
"They (the Congress) have not been able to do anything in last 15 years and they (the Congress) want me to do everything in 15 months time. You tell me if it is justified?" said Modi.
"You have seen their 15 years of rule and the 15 months of BJP government in power. We have been working each of the minutes in these 15 months for the betterment of the country," the prime minister said.
Taking a dig at recent Congress campaigns against him, Modi said: "Delhi has started asking for accounts of each penny given to the states. I was told when the Centre releases Re.1 only 15 paise of it reaches to the villages."
"So where does the money go? The Centre has started asking for the accounts. Thus, many do not like me these days," he said while launching a scathing attack on the Congress government in Assam.
While the BPF has been demanding a Rs.1,000 crore package for development of the BTAD, several Bodo organisations have also been demanding that the prime minister make the Centre's stand clear on the issue of statehood to the Bodoland.
The All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union has also called a 48-hour Assam bandh from Monday morning to protest the Centre's failure to grant the Scheduled Tribes status to six communities in Assam, including the Koch Rajbongshis.