Nearly four months after demanding a separate time zone for the Northeast, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma now wants the capital of Assam, Guwahati, to be declared as one of the national capitals along with New Delhi.
Sarma vouched for five national capitals for the country from each zone, so that all these places can prosper equally like New Delhi.
“India should have five national capitals. Delhi’s prosperity has contribution of people from Assam, south India and north India. With these contributions, the annual GDP of Delhi is around 15 lakh crore and with that you run 1,200 schools. Our GDP is Rs 5 lakh crore and we operate 40,000 schools. So to understand such a vivid country, people like Kejriwal will need many years. They have no knowledge of the Northeast, the Partition or the great earthquake,” he said.
“We were subjected to prolonged negligence until 2014. I have suggested that the country should have five national capitals. Then Delhi’s Chief Minister shall never mock the Northeast. You cannot compare an orange with an apple, an apple needs to be compared with an apple only. Make Guwahati the national capital, then raise these questions after 10 years. People who run the country with mere slogans shall divide the country. It an open truth that we are underdeveloped because you have taken all the prosperity. Now it’s our turn to get our share. Compare Delhi with New York, Tokyo or London, why on earth with Guwahati. Are you in such a bad state? If so, take help from us,” suggested Sarma.
“I’m of the view that we should work on curing the disease of disparity, and not mock poor states. Can we have five capitals of India, one in every zone,” tweeted Sarma on August 28.
The Twitter war between Sarma and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal began with a report on the closure of government schools in Assam, which eventually snowballed into an assessment of standard and quality of schools in both the states. Sarma invited Kejriwal to visit Assam and then the Delhi CM mentioned in the assembly that he has not been given a formal invitation. What started with the state of affairs in government schools and the adopted education model in respective states has become a full-blown political debate.
Having been engaged in a dialogue with Delhi CM Shri @ArvindKejriwal, who’s by now in habit of mocking at other states, I’m of the view that we should work on curing the disease of disparity, and not mock poor states. Can we have 5 Capitals of India, one in every zone? 1/3
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) August 29, 2022
It took a new turn on August 29 when Kejriwal took to Twitter to wish the people of Assam on the occasion of the death anniversary of Srimanta Shankar Dev.
হৰি নাম ৰসে বৈকুণ্ঠ প্ৰকাশে
প্ৰেম অমৃতৰ নদী
শ্ৰীমন্ত শংকৰে পাৰ ভাঙি দিলা
বহে ব্ৰহ্মাণ্ডক ভেদি।।
মহাপুৰুষ শ্ৰীমন্ত শংকৰদেৱৰ তিৰোভাৱ তিথিত গুৰুজনালৈ শতকোটি প্ৰণাম।
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 29, 2022
Reacting to it, Sarma said, “Why does he call the people of Assam corrupt so blatantly? As far as I know it takes more than three months to get paper work for house construction done and for other permissions, it takes more than several months in New Delhi. In Assam, it hardly takes 15 days. We feel proud that in Delhi Vidhan Sabha, Assam CM is been discussed. This is the symbol of resurgent Assam.”
“Finally, after seven decades of denial and negligence, the process of mainstreaming of the North-East started in 2014, and the pace of progress is unrelenting. North-East does not need sympathy and ridicule, we need what’s due to us – respect, resources and regeneration. This will ensure governments like Delhi do not have huge wealth at their disposal vis-a-vis North-East and states from the East,” he tweeted.
Often referred as the Gateway to the Northeast, Guwahati was the capital of the Hindu kingdom of Kamarupa (under the name of Pragjyotisa) around 400 CE. In the 17th century, the town repeatedly changed hands between Muslims and Ahoms until it became the seat of the Ahom governor of Lower Assam in 1681; in 1786, the Ahom raja made it his capital. The Myanmar (Burmese) held Guwahati from 1816 until 1826, when it became the British capital of Assam. The capital was moved 67 miles (108 km) south to Shillong in 1874.
While submitting a report on the border pact with Meghalaya in the state Assembly in March 2022, Sarma said that the signing of the agreement has “laid the seed of a new united Northeast”. He then went on to talk about a separate time zone for the region. “Today, we have the necessity for a separate time zone for the northeast. If we take it forward by two hours, we will save on power consumption, improve our work efficiency, and our health. We would then be able to synchronise it with our biological clock,” he said.
The reason for the demand is the loss of daylight hours and excess use of electricity. The distance between India’s east to west is 2,933 km, which is equivalent to a two-hour time difference. In the Northeast, around the summer solstice, sunrise occurs at 4:15 am.