By- Priyankan Goswami
As the results of the Assembly elections came out, everyone was left wondering why and how the Congress (I) was able to do so well in spite of being charged with numerous charges of corruption and other issues. The issue that no other party could win or do well in Assam in the last three elections, as it turns out to be, is not how good Congress (I) is but how worse the opposition parties, primarily AGP is, since BJP does not even deserve to be considered as a opposition in Assam.Keeping aside why Congress (I) was able to win for the third consecutive time; we find the following reasons for Assam Gana Parishad’s failure once again:
Lack of Trust by the rural people
Assam Gana Parishad during its two tenures of enjoying the ruling powers did nothing worthy for the overall development of the rural areas. Peasants or village women, jobless educated youth or aspiring students, there was hardly any scheme for the village folk of Assam, who potentially forms the major vote bank of Assam. Just as an example, during the regime of AGP, Government Schools in villages never saw any funds for development, school teachers spent months and years without salary and imparting education without motivation. Good or bad, at least congress (I) was able to pay the teachers their salary on time and brought motivation to the students with providing them laptops for securing a first division in tenth board. Better still, with schemes like providing free bicycles to all girl students in villages, other schemes like Mamoni, Majoni for women, Congress (I) not only made every household in village happy, but brought a trust factor for the party.The villages in Assam form the backbone of the Assamese culture and nationalism. Since AGP failed to capture the imagination of the village folks, it lost majority of the battle right here.
Bribe Taken but Job not given
Another major reason why AGP lost its trust from the people is due the fake job market it had created for thousands of unemployed youth of the state. During AGP’s tenure of 1996 to 2001, it had become mandatory for anyone intending to get a job in Government posts to first arrange a bribe of few lakhs for the AGP officials. Right from applicants of Police Constables and Primary school teachers to Assam Civil service officers, all had to sell their lands, take loans to bribe the AGP brokers who negotiated with the ministers to give them Jobs. But a vast majority of those who paid such bribes for jobs either did not get the job at all, or lost the Job later due to the post being not regularized, the money taken as bribe never being returned of course. When Congress (I) came to power the corruption continued but at least those who bribed got jobs and most importantly none lost jobs later on. With this the youth of Assam lost its trust for AGP completely.
Responsible for the Bodos and other ethnic communities parting from Assamese mainstream
The Bodos, Misings, Rabha, Karbi, Dimasa and other tribes and communities of Assam forms the root of a greater Assamese society and culture, something that has given shape to history and culture of the region by cohabitation since hundreds and thousands of years. Yet, the Bodos, followed by other communities now feel themselves separate from the greater Assamese community and the people responsible for this tragic turn in Assamese history is none other than the leadership of Assam Gana Parishad.
Right from its days of Assam agitation, the leadership of AASU who went on to form the AGP displayed a false chauvinistic mentality of an elite Assamese higher class. Things grew worse during the first tenure of AGP’s rule when they gave a blind eye to the sensitivities of the Bodos. This marked the beginning of a frustrated and revengeful young generation of Bodos to start an armed rebellion to form a new Bodo land. Soon the Misings, Karbis, Rabhas, Dimasa, etc started realizing that their rights, identity and future would be destroyed under the rule of the AGP and started moving away to form its own set of groups. The greater Assamese society, which had till then always prided to be a united mix of ethnic tribes and communities, was broken with AGP’s vandalism.
This difference between communities had an ever lasting adverse affect on AGP and the party could hope for few votes from the different tribes and communities. In Bodo dominated areas, AGP did not even stand a chance.
No vote of the Assamese Muslims
In their propaganda of coming to power by shouting against illegal Bangladeshis, AGP leaders had gone a step ahead and brought an impression as if all Assamese Muslims are illegal Bangladeshis too! The different acts of violence such as the Nellie massacre where thousands of Muslims were killed by the group of people who went on to form the AGP had ignited a hatred for the party by all Muslims of Assam. AGP now need to realize that the children of those Muslims killed by them in places like Nellie two decades ago are now adult voters themselves and would never vote for the murderers of their kiln and family.
The tears of the secret killings not wiped away
The issue of secret killings where innocent family members of the ULFA were killed mercilessly by state sponsored forces at night (even children and old women not spared) and later justice denied to those affected families is unarguably the most painful part of Assam history ever, especially when the killings were the brain child of a Prafulla Kumar Mahanta led AGP Government whom the people most trusted. With the Top section of ULFA leaders coming home for the peace process with Government of India, there was huge cheer and support for these leaders and the anguish against the secret killings by AGP was back in the public. There was no trust that the AGP would be helping the ULFA in their lateral dialogue with the central government and the people chose to vote against the culprits.
Incapable & shamless leadership
We have not even considered here that AGP failed to keep the promise by which it had come to power. The Assam Accord still lies unfulfilled and the unsolved issue of illegal Bangladeshis still continues to be the prime issue in Assam politics. AGP failed in the very basics of politics. The leadership, as it turns out to be is one of the most selfish, incapable of true leadership display and lacks political wisdom. The AGP leadership could not even decide a clear strategy for itself for the elections on its allies, it was considering “three different equations” for forming a government. What could do the people expect from a party that does not have its own morale and basic policy. AGP in fact should consider changing its symbol to that of a chameleon.
‘You reap what you sow’ – the shameless leaders like Chandra Mohan Patowary and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta of AGP deserves an embarrassment like this one. And why not? Can people forget the days of BHUMKA or the treacherous period of 1996-2001 when AGP destroyed the same people who had put them to power with love and trust? AGP’s destruction is a classic example of the fact that when law turns helpless, nature makes its own law. And the law for AGP now says that the AGP leaders should take a retirement from their political career and end their games which they try playing with Assamese emotions every five years.