Ahead of the Assam assembly polls, former prime minister Manmohan Singh on March 26 alleged that the society is being divided on the basis of religion, culture and language, and asked people to elect a government that upholds the constitution and the principles of democracy.
He assured the people that if the Congress is voted to power, the Citizenship Amendment Act will not be implemented.
In a video message, a day before the first phase of polling on March 27, Singh urged the people of Assam to vote for the Congress.
"Today, I am speaking as one of you. Once again, the time has come to cast your ballot in the Vidhan Sabha election. You must vote wisely. Your future and the future of your children is in your hands. I urge you to vote for the Congress Party and the Mahajot," he said.
There is an atmosphere of tension and fear in the state, he claimed.
The former prime minister urged the people to elect a government that upholds the Constitution of India and the principles of democracy and brings about inclusive growth for all.
Singh is a star campaigner for Assam polls but has not been able to go there physically due to health reasons and COVID restrictions. The Congress is seeking to wrest power in the state back from the BJP.
Assam goes to polls in three phases -- on March 27, April 1 and April 6 -- to elect the 126-member state Assembly. The results will be declared on May 2.
Singh said the people of Assam have endured terrible suffering through a long period of insurgency and unrest, and the state made a new beginning towards peace and development under the leadership of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi from 2001 to 2016.
"However, it is now facing a very serious setback. Society is being divided on the basis of religion, culture and language. The basic rights of the common man are being denied. There is an atmosphere of tension and of fear," the former prime minister said.
He said the "ill-conceived demonetisation and the badly implemented GST" have weakened the economy and lakhs of people have lost their livelihoods.
The youth are desperate for decent jobs and the rise in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas is making life difficult for the common people, he said.
"The poor are becoming poorer and COVID-19 is making matters much worse."
"You must vote for a government that upholds the Constitution of India and the principles of democracy. You must vote for a government that will care for every citizen, for every community. You must vote for a government that will ensure inclusive growth. You must vote for a government that will put Assam once again on the path of peace and development," Singh exhorted.
He said the Assam Congress is committed to protect the unique language, culture and history of the state and to ensure the wellbeing of all communities.
Singh said the Congress has prepared a "Jan Manifesto" with promises that are practical and as a measure of its determination, it has also announced five guarantees to the people of the state.
"If elected to power, the Assam Congress will not implement the Citizenship Amendment Act. Also, it will do its utmost to repeal the CAA," he said.
Singh also cited the party manifesto that promises jobs to 5 lakh unemployed youth in the public sector and 25 lakh in the private sector.
The daily wage of tea plantation workers will be increased to Rs 365, the former prime minister said, adding these workers will also receive other social security benefits.
He also said the party has promised that every household will receive up to 200 units of free electricity and every housewife will receive an allowance of Rs 2,000 every month under the Grahani Samman scheme.
Singh has represented Assam for 28 years in Rajya Sabha from 1991 to 2019.
He recalled that Assam has been his "second home" and he is grateful to the people of the state for providing him with the opportunity to serve as finance minister of the country for five years and as prime minister for 10 years.
Singh also recalled his association and affections for former chief ministers Hiteshwar Saikia and Tarun Gogoi.