Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi while claiming that the northeastern region is missing from a map of India shared by the party on social media.
The grand old party's MP from the state, Gaurav Gogoi, was quick to retort by asking the CM about the land deals by companies linked to his family, claiming that Sarma is "avoiding" answering it, reported PTI.
Gogoi, who has been locked in a war of words on X with Sarma since Wednesday on the issue of the CM's wife's company allegedly given a credit subsidy of Rs 10 crore by the central government under a scheme, said he feared his account on the micro-blogging site was "restricted", though there has been no official word from the social media giant, it said.
Sarma shared a screenshot of an animated video from the official X handle of the Congress with pictures of cartoon characters which resemble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi with a map where the Northeast is not visible, it added.
"Seems the Congress party has secretly struck a deal to sell the entire land of Northeast to some neighbouring country," Sarma wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
The map carries a toon of Gandhi in the middle while the screenshot is captioned with an imaginary dialogue between Modi and Gandhi, inspired by the popular 'Mere pass maa hai' conversation from the 1975 Bollywood movie 'Deewar', it mentioned.
The caption has Modi stating that he has ED, police, government, money, and friends, and questions what Gandhi has, to which the latter replies that the entire nation is with him, it added.
Highlighting the 'missing' northeastern region, Sarma added, "Is this why Rahul went abroad? Or has the party given membership to Sharjeel Imam?" it mentioned.
Imam is a student activist who was arrested in a case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged conspiracy behind the 2020 riots in the national capital during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act. He has been in custody since January 28, 2020, in the case.
Gogoi reacted by questioning Sarma on land deals of his family and wrote on X: "It is ironic to hear the Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma talk about land deals. It is exactly the issue that he is avoiding to answer in Assam in the context of the companies linked to his family,"it mentioned.
He also asked for specifics about "how much agricultural land has been bought by these companies", it said.
The CM had earlier rejected the charges and said he was willing to accept any punishment, including retirement from public life, if there is any evidence that they had received the subsidy, while his wife has threatened to file a Rs 10 crore defamation case against Gogoi, it added.
Another controversy involving the CM's family had surfaced recently when an Assamese web portal published a report alleging that a substantial parcel of agricultural land measuring over 50 bighas at Darigaji village in Nagaon was reclassified as industrial land within a month after it was bought by his family members, it said.
Meanwhile, Gogoi has expressed apprehension that his X account has been "restricted", it added.
"I have received many complaints. People have sent me screenshots (of not being able to access the account). I have asked my office to at least update the people that I feel that Twitter has restricted my account," Gogoi was quoted by PTI as having said.
He said the Congress's social media cell will get in touch with X over the matter, it said.
"As of now, Twitter has not informed me of any such action on their part. I will look forward to a clarification," the Congress leader added, it said.