The Congress in poll-bound Assam has criticised BJP national president JP Nadda for claiming that the centre has granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six communities in the state, when consultation with stakeholders was still on.
Congress leaders called Mr Nadda's statement "uninformed" and "unfortunate", and accused the ruling party of running the show by "spewing misinformation and lies".
Mr Nadda made the statement while addressing BJP's first Vijay Mahasabha (victory rally) - a campaign launched ahead of Assam Assembly elections due this April - In Cachar district's Silchar town.
"The BJP government has identified the plight of the six communities and granted them ST status without affecting any other tribes of the state. Congress never showed such courage," he had said flanked by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, besides others.
As per the latest update on the grant of ST status to the six communities - Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutia, Matak, Moran and Tea Tribes - the issue was still pending.
A Group of Ministers (GoM), constituted by the Assam government for preparing modalities to grant ST status, was reportedly yet to submit its final findings, which would then be sent to the central government.
"It is very unfortunate that the BJP president would make such an uninformed comment. I can tell you that a bill to grant ST status to the six communities has not even been tabled in the Parliament and has thus not received the President's nod. Without passing a bill to the effect, how can BJP government grant them ST status?" Congress member in the Rajya Sabha and party's state unit chief Ripun Bora questioned.
He added that either Mr Nadda was uninformed or despite knowing the truth, he had misled the people of Assam for political mileage.
"In either sense, it is very unfortunate," he said.
"Such incorrect information coming from the president of a ruling national party makes it very clear that the BJP is indeed run by spewing misinformation and lies," another Congress parliamentarian Pradyut Bordoloi said.
He further appealed to all leaders of the six communities, who have been "fighting for the ST status to question the basis for the party's comment".
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