New Government to focus on fiscal management and tackling militancy

Speaking to newsmen immediately after the swearing-in ceremony of the new Congress ministry at the Durbar Hall of the Raj Bhawan here Friday, Mr Gogoi said tackling fiscal indiscipline and controlling insurgency will be two most important tasks before the new government. He said he will press the Central Government for waiving the State’s huge debt of approximately Rs 10,000 crore. In this regard, he said he will be meeting Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee very soon. ‘‘I have become the Chief Minister of Assam when it is passing through the most difficult period. No chief minister in the past has faced such a challenge. A herculean task awaits me to tackle the financial and insurgency problem of the state’’, he said when reporters asked him how he proposed to handle the massive financial crisis facing the state.

The new Chief Minister stated that State police will have a greater role in the Unified Command structure. He, however, added that the ongoing counter-insurgency operations by the Army will continue. He further said that a new strategy would be chalked out soon after consultations with senior Army, police and civil officials. He said he would review the law and order of the state as well as role of the Army at his first cabinet meeting to be held later on Friday.

Expressing his strong opposition to any move by the Union Government to extend the ongoing ceasefire between the Centre and the NSCN-IM to the bordering areas of Assam, Mr Gogoi demanded that a similar ceasefire be declared with the militant outfits in the State.

The Chief Minister said under no circumstances would his government allow extension of the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM into the bordering areas of Assam. He said: “The previous government opposed it, and we too will oppose it.” Meanwhile, the NSCN-IM had been threatening that ceasefire be extended to all Naga inhabitated areas of the North East which has been resisted by the successive State Governments. He also said it is time the Centre considered the proposition of declaring ceasefire with the militant outfits in the State on the pattern of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Gogoi will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee within a week and apprise him of the latest development in the state and seek complete cooperation from the Centre.