Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday promised to restore special category status to Arunachal Pradesh and other states in northeast if the party is voted to power.
Addressing a public rally in Itanagar to kick-start the Congress poll campaign in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura, Gandhi also reiterated the party’s opposition to the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) which lapsed in February.
“There are some states in the country which require special status because of their unique problems and difficulties such as connectivity, terrain and infrastructure,” he said.
Gandhi said that during previous Congress regime, Arunachal Pradesh and other states in NE used to enjoy special status, but it was revoked after BJP-led NDA came to power in 2014.
Arunachal Pradesh will go to polls on April 11 to elect two Lok Sabha MPs. The BJP and the Congress hold one Lok Sabha seat each. The state will also have simultaneous election to elect a new 60-member legislative assembly.
Gandhi maintained Arunachal Pradesh has a special place in the heart of the Congress party and it would like to establish a ‘dil ka rishta’ (relationship of the heart) with people of the state.
He added that Congress won’t allow Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be passed in parliament as it is detrimental to the people of the northeast.
The region has witnessed widespread protests against the proposed legislation which sought to give citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There were fears that it would lead to wide scale influx of migrants and sideline indigenous communities.
“We will not allow suppression of the people of northeast,” Gandhi said while adding that Congress won’t target language, culture, customs and tradition of people of the region.
Gandhi held a meeting with Congress office bearers before leaving for Manipur capital Imphal. He will address a public rally in Imphal on Wednesday and leave for Tripura later in the day.
The Congress which had won assembly election in 2014, lost power in Arunachal Pradesh on September 16, 2016 after all but one of its MLAs joined a regional party.Forty-three MLAs led by chief minister Pema Khandu joined the Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA), leaving the Congress with only former chief minister Nabam Tuki. The PPA then merged with the BJP to give the saffron party its first government in Arunachal Pradesh.