Sonia confident of more outfits joining peace process

ULFA hardliners have called for a 12-hour bandh in the state in protest against the visit.

Guwahati: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday expressed confidence that insurgent outfits who have not come forward for talks so far will realise the futility of violence and join the peace process.

``I am happy to note that UPA and Congress led-Assam government`s efforts to end insurgency through dialogue have been positive as most insurgent outfits have announced their decision to abjure violence,`` Gandhi said at the official celebration of Congress government`s completion of first year of its third consecutive term in the state.

``Most insurgent outfits have realised violence cannot solve any problem and have left this path for peace. The government will take all measures to establish peace and fulfill their aspirations,`` she said.

The Congress president said that today was a day of celebration for the party. ``But at the same time we realise the huge responsibility the people of Assam has reposed in us and we renew our pledge to serve them better to take them on the path of peace, development and prosperity.``

Gandhi said Tarun Gogoi assumed power in the state 11 years ago its condition was ``pathetic``. ``Assam was in a state of chaos and disarray...Insurgency was at its height, the treasury was empty, government employees were not paid salaries, development was at an all-time low, industries and industrialists were fleeing.``

The people of Assam joined hands with the Congress to change the situation and take the state forward on the road of development, she added.

Gandhi said Assam`s strength is in its diversity and the people of the state have realised that it is Congress that will take all sections of society into consideration in the development process.

``Rajiv Gandhi had realised this 27 years ago when he signed the historic Assam Accord and we are working according to its provisions,`` she added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has represented Assam in Rajya Sabha for 20 years, takes a personal interest in its development and the Centre along with the state government has initiated several schemes specifically for the state.

She said four new bridges would be built on Brahmaputra river, which is the lifeline of the state and an integral part of its cultural identity.

There has been a marked improvement in the condition of roads while there has been increased investment in the power sector and eight lakh BPL families have been provided with electricity under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, she said.

Several new schemes have been undertaken for empowering women like strengthening of self-help groups and under Panchayati Raj and reservation of 50 percent seats for them.

As a part of the development of all sections of society including SC/STs, backward castes, indigenous communities, the government has set up eight autonomous councils and 18 development councils.

Assam has also taken full advantages of National Rural Health Mission. ``I have been told that the people are receiving much better health care and facilities,`` she added.