Dr Tapashi Gupta
Since independence if we observe the electoral history, Assam is always used as a vote bank by all the political parties. Earlier it was Congress who reigned the state for long term. Late Gopinath Bardoloi, Late Bimala Prasad Chaliha, Late Hiteswar Saikia, Late Tarun Gogoi were great renown political leaders of Assam. The Indian National Congress out of power since May, 2016. After 1962 Chinese debacle, the youth of Assam were more eager to do something worthwhile for their state. The patriotic fervour invigorated further by Chinese aggression. Most probably in 1966, the youth of Assam felt to organise themselves in a statewide single platform to raise the state issues with New Delhi and also among Assamese people. The convention can be called the first step to the formation of All Assam Students Union (AASU), and then started intermittent agitation for the state foreigners issue, which developed the historic Assam Accord in 1985 and also formed AGP, a state political party. Sri Prafulla Mahanta, among the pioneer leaders became the youngest chief minister of the state. The yearly agitation continued for several years. The 1980s saw a series of bandhs with people on the streets, and their demand was “Assam for the Assamese”, Assam was paralyzed. Finally, the Centre had to give in to the demands, and the historic Assam Accord was signed in 1985. In the meantime there arose another fear factor in the name of patriotism, ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) Assam Accord brought to end to the six-year long agitation. The AGP has formed the government twice from 1985-1989 and 1996-2001.
The Assam movement’s moral support base was the Assamese middle class but misgovernance and the failure to address the issue of foreigners soon alienated the middle class. The AGP miserably failed to meet the expectations of the people of Assam. The state that boasts rich natural resources witnessed a down spin of the economy, unemployment was glaring, and government jobs were not paid on time. Adding to it was the horror of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). ULFA is an armed separatist organization. It seeks to establish an independent state of Assam with armed struggle in Assam conflict. The government of India banned the organisation in 1990 citing it as a terrorist organisation. Initially the organisation enjoyed widespread public support from indigenous Assamese people. But some of the major assassination by the ULFA killed several genius people, several civilians from Bihar, Bengal and even several indigenous people also, which made it unpopular. They targeted the remote villages and predominantly backward areas of poor indigenous people for the recruitment of their cadres. Several young life was massacred and destroyed before flourishing. A spell of insurgency and counterinsurgency started and the poor people were caught in between.
Between 1998 and 2001, Assam witnessed the ugliest chapter of its political history. Violence became the order of the day, unidentified gunmen would knock on the doors of the families of ULFA and former ULFA rebels, and kill them in cold blood by night. These were known as secret killings in Assam. A 2007 inquiry report which was tabled in the state legislative assembly had questioned Mahanta’s role in all this. The people of Assam were frustrated, and in 2001, the Congress was brought back to power under the leadership of Lt Tarun Gogoi.
The states political party has split thrice in a span of twenty years and still fragmented. Once AGP was the pillar of regionalism in Assam. Present day politics is something different, the political Scenario is completely changed AGP compelled to play second fiddle to the BJP, which came to power in Assam for the first time in 2016. According to some political analysts BJP has hijacked the AGPs original agenda of expelling, “illegal immigrants” out of Assam. Political analysts also says that the AGP, once Assam’s strongest regional party has been reduced to nothing but a subsidiary or tail of the BJP. The party has sold itself to the BJP. Their standard has been lowered to the fact that they can not be able to take any decision without the consent of BJP. Recently two more new indigenous party develops, RD(Raijar Dal) and AJP(Assam Jatiya Parishad).
All the party leaders using the indigenous people as vote bank till present. Majority of the leaders has shown lust for power, drifting away from the responsibities and that has become the main drawback of their political career.
There is no question of compromising on ideology and all of them want peace and development of the state and working hard for that but still the state issues like elimination of illegal immigrants, implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, NRC, CAA, development or progress of the indigenous people of the state through the industrial development, reopening of two paper mills, employment generation, tourism development etc. remains still stagnant