Exclusive Interview with Sarbananda Sonowal: Promises Indigenous Protection


In an interview with The Guwahati, Former Chief Minister of Assam and current Cabinet Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal stated that the CAA has lost its prominence as a contentious issue, with voters realizing they were misled by opposition propaganda. He emphasized that the CAA poses no threat to Indian citizens, including those in the Northeast, and does not adversely impact the indigenous population. Sonowal highlighted the Modi government’s track record in implementing welfare schemes and assured voters of safeguarding their interests. He criticized the opposition for overlooking their past implementation of the IMDT Act in Assam. Sonowal reiterated the BJP’s commitment to preserving indigenous heritage and promoting development in the region.

The Guwahati: Could you please share your perspective on the recent legislative initiatives undertaken by the government to address the challenges faced by various sectors, particularly in the context of the ongoing economic recovery efforts post-pandemic ?

Sarbananda Sonowal: In 2022, India has experienced a robust recovery in economic growth and corporate earnings. Notably, the budget  has allocated a 35% increase in India’s capital expenditure, totalling ₹7.5 lakh crore, with a significant portion earmarked for crucial connectivity projects and infrastructure development. This presents ample opportunities for Swedish companies to contribute to India’s efforts in modernizing its key infrastructure sectors. The government’s emphasis on infrastructure is further underscored by initiatives such as the $1.4 trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline, exemplified by the PM’s Gati Shakti Scheme. India’s recovery post-COVID has been spearheaded by sectors like digital infrastructure, services, healthcare, metallurgy, and construction. To enhance the ease of doing business, the government has scrapped 75,000 compliances and repealed 1,486 union laws. Voluntary exits for corporates have been reduced from 2 years to 6 months, and Special Economic Zones have been revamped under new legislation. The government’s budget signals a commitment to bolster India’s social infrastructure, with an 8% increase in funding for the National Health Mission and a 28% rise for the National Education Mission. These measures foster growth in India’s HealthTech and EducationTech sectors, where Sweden already holds significant stakes. India presents vast investment opportunities, leveraging its untapped rural economy, robust infrastructure, industrial production, IT sector, and thriving startup ecosystem.

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TG: With regards to the BJP’s vision for governance and development, what strategies do you believe are essential to ensure inclusive growth and equitable distribution of resources, especially in regions that have historically faced socio-economic disparities ?
Sarbananda Sonowal: The BJP’s vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’ rests on the track record of development under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past decade. This momentum is set to continue as we strive for a ‘Developed India’, guaranteed by Modi’s vision. The electorate will support the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance because unlike the Congress party, which exacerbated issues in the Northeast for nearly six decades, we have brought tangible progress. Our strategy focuses on leveraging the sustained peace in the region since 2014 to drive economic growth. Under Prime Minister Modi’s dynamic leadership, the Northeast has emerged as a beacon of economic potential, dubbed ‘Ashta Lakshmi’, poised to propel India’s growth. With abundant resources and strategic positioning, the BJP is committed to unlocking the region’s economic vitality, ushering in a resurgence. Embracing the principle of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’, our government ensures inclusive development, benefiting all sections of society. This developmental agenda aligns with public expectations and establishes a strong foundation for the BJP’s governance in the region, marked by effective administration and progress.

TG: As a seasoned politician with vast experience, how do you envision the future trajectory of the BJP and its role in shaping the socio-political dynamics of India ?
Sarbananda Sonowal: BJP is a party with a purpose, a vision and is working on a mission mode towards this end. Given the welfare of the people delivered to the people of India, I believe BJP as a political party will continue to strengthen the democratic tradition of India by providing leadership towards becoming a Viksit Bharat with Atmanirbharta as its foundation. A new Bharat – with a strong foundation – is being built where Antodaya is the guiding mantra of governance, where the vision of the inclusive governance is ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas.’ In such an environment, it is important that the pace of the journey and inclusivity of the nature sustains. I belive that BJP as a party provides that democratic opportunity for every India to be part of this historic journey.

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TG: What will be your first step as a Lok Sabha MP after a long break?
Sarbananda Sonowal: My first step is and has always been to seek the blessings of the people and the Lord almighty. I pray for the welfness of the people, and the country. As a committed party worker, I shall do what my party assigns me on that day.

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TG: In the coming five years, what position do you envision yourself holding in politics ?
Sarbananda Sonowal: AS I have told you earlier, I am committed worker of the BJP. Ever since I have joined BJP, our party directives have been sacrosanct and I shall perform tasks assign by my part towards building a new Congress.

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TG: What do you consider to be the most notable work in Assam during the tenure of the Narendra Modi government ?
Sarbananda Sonowal: The BJP-led NDA is poised to secure over 22 out of the 25 seats in the northeast region. Since 2014, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the region has witnessed a sense of empowerment, actively participating in the nation-building process. Historically plagued by violence, poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and basic amenities, the regionhas undergone a transformation. The BJP’s governance model, rooted in ‘Antodaya’ principles, priorities the development of the most marginalised individuals in society. After decades of neglect under Congress rule, the Modi government has implemented focused initiatives, including the completion of key infrastructure projects like the Bogibeel bridge in Dibrugarh and the Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Setu between Tinsukia and Sadiya. Additionally, policies such as Ujjwala, Jal Jeevan Mission, PM Awas Yojana, and Ayushman Bharat have significantly improved the quality of life for residents, granting them dignity and opportunity. These achievements signal a resounding call for Narendra Modi to serve as Prime Minister for a third term, encapsulated in the slogan ‘Ab Ki Baar, 400 Paar.’ The people of the Northeast are poised to elect the highest number of MPs from the region to support the NDA in forming the government.

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TG: What work do you believe needs to be prioritized for Assam in the next phase of development?
Sarbananda Sonowal: It is always welcome feeling to be back in my hometown – Dibrugarh. This is beyond politics and this feeling of homecoming is never enough. As I have told earlier, we are sincere members of the party. We are following what our party wants us to perform and we happily. This time around, the Party decided to field me from the Dibrugarh LSC. Given the fact that Rameswar Teli, under the visionary leadership of PM has done some tremendous work fine work in the Dibrugarh LSC. I am confident that BJP will get to a majority mark with the development of various areas from infrastructure to social welfare. With the love, blessings and support that we are receiving from the people, it is clear that Shri Narendra Modi ji will be elected back as the Prime Minister of India for the third consecutive term. Our vision is of a Viksit Dibrugarh in a Viksit Assam as we work sincerely towards building our Viksit India.

TG: Is the problem of foreign nationals still worrisome for Assam as it was in the 80s ? If so, what was the relevance of the Citizenship Amendment Act, and if not please describe.
Sarbananda Sonowal: The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has lost its prominence as a contentious issue in this election, no longer gaining traction among voters. People have come to realize that they were misled by opposition propaganda regarding the CAA. It is now widely understood that the CAA does not pose any threat to Indian citizens, including those in the Northeast region, and has no adverse impact on the indigenous population. The track record of the Modi Government in implementing welfare schemes provides people with a sense of assurance, known as ‘Modi Ki Guarantee. Opposition attempts to create fear and uncertainty around the CAA have been debunked, as people recognize that it does not disrupt their way of life. The concerns that led to agitation in the past now hold no validity. The BJP government remains committed to safeguarding the interests of indigenous ‘Bhoomiputras’ by granting them land rights, a neglected aspect under decades of Congress rule. By ensuring legal rights over
land, the primary argument against the CAA loses its basis. The opposition, particularly aligned with the Congress, conveniently overlooks their own past implementation of the draconian IMDT Act in Assam, which was later revoked by the Supreme Court. The BJP’s vision emphasizes the preservation of
heritage and the development of a new India, assuring indigenous communities that their cultural legacy will be protected and promoted.
TG: Is there a political conflict between Sarbananda Sonowal and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma?(Please respond with a single word: yes/no)
Sarbananda Sonowal: NO.

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