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Himanta Biswa Sarma takes oath as CM; says will propose partial re-verification of NRC, appeals for peace

Historical day for Assam as Himanta Biswa Sarma takes oath as the 15th Chief Minister. He takes over the reign from Sarbananda Sonowal who toppled Tarun Gogoi’s Congress to form a BJP government back in 2016. The party took a decision to back Sarma as the CM and the decision was wholeheartedly accepted by Sonowal. The transition in itself has set a milestone in the political landscape of the country.

After taking the oath, Sarma held a press briefing and took questions from the journalists present at the hall. At the very beginning, he acknowledged the progress in the last five years and promised to carry it forward. Along with him, 13 other ministers took oath today and the new chief minister said a Cabinet meeting has been called where the COVID situation will be discussed and decisions will be taken.

The 15th chief minister also appealed for peace and asked Paresh Baruah to come out in public life by sorting issues with dialogues. He also assured that the “proactive” government will leave no stone unturned to fulfill the poll promises. One lakh employment opportunities, new cap under Arunodoy Scheme, and loan waivers found space in the list of things he would like the government to work on immediately.

However, the biggest statement from Sarma in the brief press conference is definitely on the subject of NRC. BJP has gone public with its claims that the minorities, especially the Muslims did not vote for the party despite accepting all government benefits. Today, when asked about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) the state’s new chief minister made it clear that he is not happy with it in its existing form.

“Our position on the NRC is clear,” said Sarma. He added, “In the areas that share international borders, we will propose a 20% re-verification and in the districts that do not share borders with any other country, we will propose a 10% re-verification. After the re-verification, if the data reveals that the existing NRC is correct, the State will accept it. However, if the data reveals a mismatch, which will prove the fact that there was some meddling during the process, we will appeal to the honourable court for a new directive.”

Another issue that was flagged to Sarma but he played it down was the deadline that would define who is indigenous and who is not. Sarma said, “Let us first sort out the COVID situation and then we will have a discussion with the people of the state and make a decision. My aim will be to ensure that the questions that are there without answers are answered in the next five years.”

The chief minister concluded by saying this new government will function round the clock and will be with the people even post-midnight. He assured that tomorrow, after the cabinet meeting, the decision taken to combat COVID situation will be announced.

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