Union Ministers in the Narendra Modi government have no "independence and they have to take permission for every small issue", Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi alleged today.
"These days Union Ministers do not have independence. For every small issue they have to take permission. I was also an Union Minister and I used to enjoy lots of independence. But now the situation has changed completely," Gogoi said at an interactive session where his autobiography ‘Turnaround - Leading Assam from the Front’ was released.
Giving an example, Gogoi claimed that Minister for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh told him that even the funds allocated to his Ministry continued to be with the Finance Ministry and he (Singh) has to run from pillar to post even for small issues.
Gogoi was Minister for Food Processing Industries in P V Narasimha Rao government.
Gogoi also exuded confidence over winning the Assam Assembly elections saying BJP's "nervousness has been reflected everywhere."
The three-time Chief Minister of Assam said he was "100 per cent confident" that Congress will return to power when after the results of Assembly election will be announced on May 19.
"The BJP and AGP don't have any base in Assam. They are just exploiting people through emotional issues. But emotional issues don't last long. They may be trying to uproot us but we will come back to power," he said.
Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for campaigning for BJP-led alliance's partner Bodoland People's Front, Gogoi said it does not look good when the Prime Minister of the country campaign for a "sub-regional" party.
"They (BPF) is not even a regional party but a sub-regional party. It reflected that the BJP is nervous. I am 100 per cent confident that we will return to power," he said.
Asked about the loss of Congress after the departure of Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had joined the BJP and became one of the key strategist, the 80-year-old Congress veteran said that before joining the saffron party Sarma was a biggest critic of BJP.
"During 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Himanta had said that blood flows in the water pipes of Gujarat," he said.
The book was released by Rajya Sabha member Karan Singh while the session was moderated by journalist Shekhar Gupta.
Gogoi's autobiography traces the story of how the Chief Minister’s innovative and grounded style of governance helped bring about the change towards the path of development.
Karan Singh said it has been an astounding achievement for Gogoi to be at the helm of affairs for three consecutive terms and for steering the State through difficult times.
"For being the Chief Minister during the most difficult times with insurgency and various forces at work and for bringing about a turnaround in the situation, his place in the history is assured," he said.
Terming Gogoi as a son of the Brahmaputra, Singh said the manner in which he handled a State like Assam confronted with so much difficulties and complexities similar to that of Jammu and Kashmir was quite extraordinary.
Singh said due importance has to be given to the regional leaders who are becoming forces to be reckoned with in the political spectrum in the past three decades for understanding the problems and issues in proper perspectives.
Gogoi said when he took over the reins of power in May 2001, Assam was passing through difficult times. "Insurgency was at its peak with militants calling the shots. Development came to a standstill. With empty coffers, Government employees were not paid salaries for months together. But things have changed since then.
"The number of killings by militants has come down as several outfits were brought to the negotiating table. Economic growth accompanied the new stability. And the rest is history," he said.
Gogoi said the biggest achievement of his Government has been changing the mindset of the youth.
"Today the youth of Assam are shining outside the State. They are feeling confident like never before. Assam’s future is bright and the State is well poised to become one of the leading States of the country.
"When the history of Assam is penned, my three terms will show up both positives as well as negatives. But I will leave history to judge these years. I, as a son of the soil, am only content and grateful that I could take centre stage in the turnaround story," he said.
The Chief Minister also answered to a volley of questions posed by the audience harking back to the anti-foreigners’ agitation vis-a-vis persuading the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to go in for signing of the Assam Accord despite strong opposition.