While the death toll in the ethnic violence in Assam went up to 58, the blame game within the political arena was on. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi defended his government against allegations that it was slow to react to the rioting, and failed to anticipate the violence. He said a reduction in Central forces has made his task tougher. Gogoi also ruled out resignation, saying that his resignation over the issue was not going to help matters.
“If they had the intelligence reports, why did they not act on their own then?” Gogoi asked. He further said, “It is my responsibility to get the normalcy back in the area. Had there been full forces there, the situation could have been controlled, I agree. I did not have sufficient forces. I requested the Centre but they had requirements across the country… So I cannot do anything there… It takes time to make movements…”
Gogoi did not spare the Opposition either, saying that the violence flared up in Assam because of the NDA regime. “This situation has flared up because of the NDA regime. They played the politics. I know Advaniji. They are responsible and they keep accusing us. It is not me who is playing votebank politics. I do not need a single vote of the illegal migrants,” he said.
“Media keeps asking me if I am resigning. Will my resigning not create chaos?” he asked, adding, “Like that, administration officers will say they are going to resign. Then security officers will also say they want to resign… This cannot go on… That is not the way,” he added.
In a strong signal to the three-time Chief Minister, the Congress has set up a 10-member coordination committee for the state. Some Congress MPs like Rehman Khan had openly criticised Gogoi, seeking his replacement.
This came even as Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh had defended the Assam Chief Minister saying his performance should not be judged by one incident.
Meanwhile, the toll in Assam’s ethnic violence has risen. Authorities recovered 14 more bodies in Chirang on Friday, taking the total toll to 58. The curfew in Chirang was relaxed till 4 pm.
The violence, that entered the sixth day on Friday, has left over 2 lakh people homeless in 400 villages. The people were taken to relief camps. Gogoi had visited the relief camps in Kokrajhar on Thursday.