While campaigning for the May 2006 state Assembly election in Assam, the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a brazen appeal to the Muslims offered to amend the Foreigners Act to prevent the deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. This was revealed by a Wiki leaks cable, dated February 16, 2006, authored by a US consulate officer in Kolkata.
As per report filed by the Firstpost, “The Congress has tried to appease the Muslims by not enforcing the Foreigners Act, and in her recent visit, Sonia offered to amend the illegal migrants (determination by Tribunals) (IMDT) Act. The Muslim community’s importance has been magnified by a steady influx of Bangladeshi immigrants, and Muslims presently hold 13 Congress seats in the Assembly. Traditionally, Congress had been the party of choice for the Muslims as it protected illegal Bangladeshi migrants from deportation,” the cable said.
The relationship between the Congress party and its traditional vote bank soured in July 2005, when the Supreme Court ruled the IMDT Act as unconstitutional, the cable revealed.
As per media reports, the Congress government in Assam has been pushing the military to institute a ceasefire in its operations against the militant organisation United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I), the cable revealed.
“Her (Sonia) visit was marred by violence in the wake of the death of a suspected United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) member in Indian Army custody (REFTEL). However, Gandhi quickly condemned the death, forcing the Army to apologize. The Congress government in Assam has been pushing the military to institute a ceasefire in its operations against ULFA. While the political situation is still very fluid two months prior to the election, it appears that Congress will lose its current outright majority, but will likely cobble together a coalition government in Assam,” the cable revealed.
The cable further mentioned, “On February 5, the Indian Army detained suspected ULFA supporter Ajit Mahanta, who subsequently died in custody. That, in turn, resulted in the February 10 police shooting of 8 persons protesting Mahanta’s death. Gandhi was quick to condemn the violence and compelled the Army to apologize”.