CALCUTTA: The Chief Minister of Assam Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, on Sept. 19 accused Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of making unfounded charges against his government.

“The charges leveled against the Assam government by the Prime Minister during his tour of the flood affected areas are baseless and politically motivated,” Mahanta told a press conference.

Charging the central government with “blaming non-Congress (I) governments for no reason,” he said he had no other alternative but to pursue a “path of confrontation” with New Delhi. “What is the alternative if the Center does not extend necessary assistance to the state government?” he asked.

Mahanta said the relief provided by the Center was not sufficient to meet the requirements of Assam’s flood hit people. He said that while the center had given over Rs 300 million to Congress ruled northeastern Nagaland before the 1987 Assembly elections toward relief for a “nonexistent” drought. It was now underestimating the flood disaster in Assam.

Referring to the allegation that the state had diverted its resources for purposes other than flood relief, Mahanta said there was some discrepancy in the Prime Minister’s statement that over Rs. 800 million were spent for less priority sectors in a matter of four days.

He said the Reserve Bank of India had reported a closing balance of Rs. 530 million for the state government on Sept 10, besides the ways and means limit of Rs. 300 million allowed by the RBI. The position on Sept 14 was a balance of Rs 10 million besides the ways and means limit.

The amount spent during the period was by way of clearing certain overdue payments for some sectors. He said.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 23, 1988