Assam govt will allow Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Chief minister says yatra will have to remain on the national highway and not enter Guwahati city limits as it will create traffic snarls

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (photo: IANS)
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (photo: IANS)


Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said the government will give permission for the Congress to hold its Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, as the state welcomes "all tourists".

But there is no information yet on the Congress seeking permission to hold the yatra in Assam, he asserted.

The yatra, to be led by Rahul Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders, is slated to reach Assam on 18 January after being flagged off from Manipur's capital Imphal on 14 January. The eight-day Assam leg of the yatra will continue until 25 January, and cover 17 districts of the state, party sources said.

"I asked the chief secretary if the Congress has sought permission, but he is still to receive any information on this," Sarma told a press conference in Guwahati. "They (Congress) are creating unnecessary fuss. We do not know if and when they are coming. We do not even know the route they propose to take."

The media is informed about everything on the yatra but the Assam government is not aware of anything, Sarma quipped.

Sarma, who is a prominent BJP leader of the northeast, said the party will respond politically to Congress' yatra though the Assam government will give permission if it is sought. "Where is the conflict in this? Whether it is nyay (justice) or anyay (injustice), all tourists are welcome to the state ... If more tourists come to our state, we will welcome them," he said.

Asked whether he considered the Congress yatra as a tourist event, Sarma refused to comment and said 44 lakh tourists had visited Assam in 2022-23.

The Congress has said the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will be taken out demanding economic, social and political justice for the people of the country.

Asked about the Congress claim during the day that the party has been denied permission to stay in a school at Gogamukh in Dhemaji district and a college in Jorhat, Sarma said permission could not be given for using schools and colleges when they were in session. "But if it is on a Sunday, they can."

The chief minister also said the yatra will have to remain on the national highway and not enter Guwahati city limits as it will create traffic snarls. "If the Congress yatra has to move through the city, they must finish before 8.00 am so that traffic is not affected," he added.

Processions within the city by anybody, including the BJP, will not be allowed as there are hospitals and nursing homes located in it and their ambulance services will be affected, he said.

Congress leader Debabrata Saikia, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Assam assembly, said with the government refusing permission to use the premises of the educational institutions in Dhemaji and Jorhat, the party is now looking for alternative arrangements in farm lands or fields of individuals to station the containers in which senior party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, will stay for the night.

Responding to this, Sarma said if the Congress leaders chose to stay in fields it would not be a problem for the Assam government. "If the Congress wants I will direct the district commissioners to clear and clean it for them."

The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, led by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, will begin from Imphal on 14 January and culminate in Mumbai on 20 March.

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