Mahanta refutes CM's statement on cut-off date for foreigners

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Guwahati, Aug 23 (UNI) The wordy duel between Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his predecessor Prafulla Kumar Mahanta dragged on with the latter today providing evidence regarding the controversy over refusal by Assam agitation leaders to accept 1967 as the cut- off date for detection of foreigners.

'' The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was asked during her Assam visit on April 12, 1980, specifically by us (Assam Agitation leaders) if the Centre had indeed offered 1967 as the cut-off date. But she had denied it categorically,'' Mr Mahanta said.

The controversy had surfaced when Mr Gogoi claimed that the then-Central government had offered 1967 as the cut-off date in 1980, but the leaders had refused to accept it since they had not attained eligible age for contesting elections.

The same leaders had, however, settled for a later date of 1971 in the 1985 negotiations, the Assam Chief Minister had added.

Mr Mahanta, who was a signatory of the Assam Accord, provided records of Ms Gandhi's assertions in the print media and All India Radio where she had mentioned of 1971 as the proposed dateline.

He also maintained that the then-Prime Minister had taken a pro-foreigner stand even in 1980, a stand maintained by the Congress always.

The then-Assam Governor LP Singh had informally offered 1967 as the cut-off year, but when Ms Gandhi was asked to confirm it, she had denied outright of having put forth such a proposal, he added.

The two-time former Chief Minister alleged that Mr Gogoi was raking up the issue of the cut-off date to cover up his failures in detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis by diverting the attention of the people.

On Mr Gogoi's rigid stand against organisations handing over suspect nationals to police, Mr Mahanta pointed that the former, as APCC chief in 2000, had appealed to the public to engage in detection of Bangladeshis.

He also took a dig at the Chief Minister for his criticism of the judiciary when the latter had observed in a verdict that Bangladeshis have become ''king-makers in the state''.


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