Rahul's first rally 'wasted': Himanta

Guwahati, February 14 (PTI): Senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday claimed that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi takes advice from "Arabic speaking people", apparently hinting at AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, and that is why his first election rally in the state was "wasted".

The Congress has teamed up with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and four other political parties to form a Grand Alliance against the ruling BJP for the assembly election in the state due in March-April.

Sarma, the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the regional arm of NDA, also dared the Congress to take a stand against illegal Muslim immigrants.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an official function in Guwahati, the BJP leader claimed that the capacity of Boarding field in Sivasagar district, where Gandhi addressed a public rally during the day, is about 12,000- 15,000 people, indicating that it was not well-attended.

A Congress spokesperson, however, asserted that over 50,000 people gathered at Boarding field for the rally of Gandhi, who said that his party will protect every principle of the Assam Accord and will never implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act if voted to power in the state.

"He (Gandhi) could have addressed the rally through a video conference. He came by a chartered flight, then took a chopper to reach the venue. The CRPF cover was there, administration people worked tirelessly for it. So, it was an expense of around Rs 35 lakh. And I feel this money is wasted," Sarma said.

Sarma, who was once a close confidante of Gandhi while being in the Congress, said that he would have advised the Lok Sabha MP to visit the Kamakhya temple and 'satras' (Vaishnavite places of worship) at Batadrava and Majuli to meet people.

By "Arabic speaking people", Sarma apparently meant Ajmal, the Lok Sabha member from Dhubri. His party, the AIUDF, has 14 MLAs, mostly from the minority Muslim dominated areas of Assam.

"It would have been better if he was advised by Assamese people," Sarma said.

On the Congress' 'Assam Bachao Ahok' bus yatra campaign across the state, the BJP leader said that the opposition party leaders are just enjoying the bus ride and moving around places.

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