The head of Barpeta Satra today dimissed Rahul Gandhi's claim that he was stopped from entering the Vaishanvite monastery and said there was no RSS agent in the religious place.
Even as Barpeta Satra Bura Satriya (head) Bakhista Deba Sarma termed as "unfortunate", the Chief Minister's attempts to connect a centre of culture and religion with politics, Tarun Gogoi stuck to his stand.
"There is no RSS agent in the Satra. It is a religious place and only religious activities are undertaken here. Where does politics come into the Satra"?," Sarma said while speaking to reporters.
"The women here are simple people and they come twice a day for participating in the community prayers in the Satra. They were only waiting at the Satra gate to see Rahul Gandhi. They do not know anything about politics", Sarma said.
"Connecting a centre of religion and culture like the Satra with politics by Gogoi who is the chief minister is most unfortunate. In future, politics and the Satra should not be interlinked", he said.
On the chief minister's claim that no land was encroached upon by illegal Bangladeshi migrants, Sarma said, "Gogoi's stock reaction 'Baadiya' (forget it) to important issues of the state would not do.
"There is encroachment in our Satra (Vaishnavite monasteries) land here and in the Satras in Majuli island also", he said.
However, Gogoi maintained that the Satra had told him that Rahul Gandhi will not be allowed to enter the monastery.
"The Satra head had told me that Rahul Gandhi will not be allowed to enter the Satra. The RSS instigated it.
"Never heard anyone being prevented from entering the Satra before.I ask them even today why they prevented (Rahul from entering). Everyone has the right to enter. If RSS is not there, then why not question them why we were not allowed in," he said.
"There were 40 to 50 women preventing our entry", the chief minister told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting here.
Asked if he would apologise to the women for his allegations against them, Gogoi replied, "why will I ask their forgiveness. Have they done good or bad work by their action".
On the allegation of encroachment of Satra land presence of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, he said, "show me where".
"If there are foreigners there, then why is the central government sitting on it. Who is stopping them from deporting the foreigners", he said.
Gogoi at a press conference here yesterday had alleged that BJP and RSS had conspired not to allow entry of Gandhi into the Barpeta Satra by putting some women at the gate.
Gogoi had said "It was a conspiracy by RSS, which has infiltrated into the Satras. We came to know about it in the morning and Rahul was also informed about this.
"We wanted to avoid confrontation and so he did not pay a visit in the morning despite having women police with us", he said.
Rahul Gandhi today claimed that he had been stopped from entering the Barpeta Satra by RSS workers during his recent visit to Assam, saying this was BJP's style of politics which was "unacceptable".
Meanwhile, the people of Satranagari Barpeta have taken strong exception to the claim that Gandhi was not allowed entry into the Satra on Friday last during his 'Padayatra' in the town.
Reacting to the remarks of Gogoi and Gandhi, noted litterateur and educationist Akshay Kumar Misra said, "The AICC vice-president was to visit Barpeta Satra at noon on that day but he did not come and instead took another path to join his 'Padayatra' from Barpeta to Medhittari via Gajia."
"Though the 'Padyatra' was scheduled to start from the Satra, the last minute change of the venue to 'Nahati Batsara' disheartened the large number of gathered people, including both male and female devotees of the Satra, who were eagerly waiting to greet the national leader," he said.
"We have heard that Rahul Gandhi and Tarun Gogoi said that our womenfolk were motivated and instigated by RSS to stop Rahul from entering the Satra. That is not true. They are simple women folk of Barpeta who were anxiously waiting to see Rahul Gandhi that day... We are very sorry to see such a false propaganda being made against the women... They should withdraw their remarks," Misra said.
A prominent citizen of Barpeta, Gunajit Patowary, said, "The Chief minister's remark that RSS infiltrated the Barpeta Satra to oppose the entry of Rahul Gandhi is unbelievable."
"There is no such history of blocking the entry of any visitor to the Barpeta Satra under direction from any vested interest. The Satra governing body has been apolitical since the inception of the Satra with the blessings of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva and Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhabdeva 450 years back," Patowary said.
Another resident, Biswajit Sutradhar said, "Barpeta Satra is such a place where there is no communalism... We condemn the remarks."
Several others have also criticised the attribution of RSS infiltration among the disciples of the Satra which along with the other Satras across Assam play an integral part in the cultural life of the people of the state.
They asked political parties not to politicise the issue as the Satra is above politics and it should not be utilised for their narrow political gain.