By- Priyanuj Gohain
Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), the party that is known as the spearhead of regionalism politics in Assam is the most untrustworthy one, which has only a history of betraying its own people. It has come to power twice in the last two and a half decades using emotion of the Assamese as its main weapon only to crush the same emotion to vile dust.
The Party that never kept the promise for which it was formed
The AGP was formed ending the six years of painful struggle by the entire people of Assam to deport the illegal Bangladeshis. Firstly the group signed the Assam Accord in spite of opposition by the stalwarts of Assam, like Nibaran Bora who had actually started the Assam agitation and also by some of their own fellow members. But with a hunger for power, by signing the treacherous Assam accord, the AASU leadership who went on to form the Assam Gana Parishad ignored the sacrifices of everyone who opposed the Assam Accord.
But in all later years, the party not only failed to deport the illegal Bangladeshis, the core issue with which it had risen to power, but also failed to fulfill the Assam Accord itself. Even after 26 years of formation of the AGP, illegal Bangladeshis in Assam still rules as the main concern for the people as well as the agenda for any party in elections. In spite of getting two tenures as chances to fulfill the aspirations of the people, the AGP failed miserably to keep their word.
The Party that broke the Greater Assamese Society
Right from its days of Assam agitation, the leadership of AASU who went on to form the AGP maintained a false chauvinistic mentality of an elite Assamese higher class. This had a slow but sure lasting effect with the various ethnic tribes and communities of Assam feeling alienated in their own land and people. Things grew worse with the incident on the night of 14th January, 1987 (Uruka of Magh Bihu) when the state sponsored Assam Police raped a Bodo woman in Kokrajhar and justice was denied by the authorities. The ruling AGP gave a blind eye to the sensitive matter and marked the beginning of a frustrated and revengeful young generation of Bodos to start an armed rebellion to form a new Bodo land. Soon not only the Bodos but the Misings, Karbis, Rabhas, Dimasas, etc started understanding 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 political leaderships and 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 foiled political agenda which seemed to cater more to the upper class Hindu section of Assam.
Creation of a market of Jobs
If Congress (I) was responsible for setting up the trend of buying Government jobs, the rivals AGP simply mastered this art. 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,- basically somehow arrange some lakhs of money to bribe the AGP brokers who negotiated with the ministers to give them Jobs. It had become an accepted notion that talent is no longer required in the state for getting a state, but only a few lakhs of rupees.
The Party responsible for the Secret Killings, darkest chapter in Assam History
This topic needs no elaboration at all. The issue of secret killings where innocent family members of the ULFA were shot at by state sponsored forces at night 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 Mahanta led Government whom the people most trusted. In fact this was a breaking of trust for the ULFA too, the help of which AGP had come to power in 1996. Prafulla Mahanta’s ploy was to avenge the killing of his wife Jayashree Goswami Mahanta’s brother, Girish Goswami who was killed during bank loot by ULFA way back in 1985.
The Party that lacks leadership or unity amidst itself
Prafulla Mahanta, the same man who was idol worshiped during the days of Assam agitation, is now looked only as a figure of treachery by the people of Assam. His association with secret killings, personal scams (his extra marital affairs) has destroyed his public image forever and is looked upon with disgust and contempt, so much so that he is now trying to use his immature son to build an alternate public image. Neither Chandramohan Patowary nor previous leader Brindaban Goswami, on the other hand has done anything great to make them charismatic leaders.
The unity within the party has been a question mark as well. Be it be Atul Borah leaving AGP to form a rebel party TGP or Prafulla Mahanta forming AGP(P) , there has been several instances which proves that the party lacks unity, decision making and has abundance of clashes in thought processing amidst them. Even Sarbananda Sonowal, the only leader in current days who still enjoyed the status of a hero for his single handed fight in getting the IMDT Act canceled, has left the party lured by offers from BJP few months back. This proves how hollow the policies and how shabby the internal binding of the party. If a party can not hold itself together, there is no way it can keep the people of the state together. Development is just out of question when decision making itself is at stake.