Of 2021 Assam polls and bluffs, wild promises & nonsense rhetoric

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By: Talmizur Rahman

Dirt & dust, lies & lurement, cheats & chats, friends & foes, money & muscle, criminals & counsels, journos & sensationalists, national wealth looters & ‘desh prem’ boosters, economists & bank defaulters et al seem to the additives undergoing horrendous fermentation in the political cauldron as the 2021 Assam election approaches. Obviously, the political landscape of the state is rapidly beginning to be polluted with toxic, virulent, communal and every other kind anti-social & anti-national venom emitted from the boiling pot. The miniscule peace that the multitude has been witnessing amidst untold economic hardship, misery and penury, is once again rattled by hooligans, rogues and wealthy dons of the political class masquerading as ‘bhadraloks’. In contrast, the sincere and non-corrupt  gentleman politician on foot, bicycle, rickshaw or a hired tempo finds himself being kicked off to the far off fields and wastelands in the face of man-muscle-money and at times even gun power unleashed by the ‘bhadraloks’. Alongside, for a huge section comprising ‘smartly matured’ electorate, pretentious grandeur & splendour, showbizz laced with songs and loud music creating a picnic milieu, helicopter display, nonsense  rhetoric and tall sky-shattering promises are a great attraction.

Be that as it may, all speculations as regards when the polls would be held in Assam are over with the Election Commission (EC) announcing the dates on Friday. Assam will go for a 3-phase poll schedule with the first phase on March 27 in 47 seats, the 2nd phase on April 01 in 39 seats and the 3rd phase on April 06 in 40 seats. Accordingly, with just about 30 days to go for the first phase, the poll hullabaloo, turmoil, sinister designs, mud-slinging  et al to be a lot more on the loose, turning the landscape ghastly horrendous for the ‘aam admi’.

In any case, while accepting Samuel Johnson’s portrayal of politics and false patriotism as the “last refuge of the scoundrels”, election time in our ‘sacred’ land is the hour for evil forces to have a field day. Interestingly, this is also a period to draw lessons from history of past polls. A mere glance at the nefarious poll records of the decades reflects a gruesome vista of black lies, falsehood, cheating, foolery & dupery of the people, tons of forgotten promises – there is no end to the list.

That being the wicked, wanton and spine-chilling scenario associated with elections in our ‘sare jahan se aaccha’ Bharat, this canvas provides limited space to discuss this sickening terrain in details. It all began with the Congress taking the masses for a ride in polls after polls. Promises galored, while forgotten promises were the order of the day and fulfilment an exception. Votes of the people were taken for granted. Overtly or covertly the masses were deprived of the knowledge of the power of their votes. The backburner was always reserved for education and socio-political awareness.

However, those governments were not blessed with the advanced technology of today. Obviously, the pace of work executed was slower and at times of inferior standard as the state-of-the-art-technology was alien even in the advanced states of India. In any case the unholy poll ethos has not changed, it has only worsened.

As time rolled by, in 2014 the saffron brigade under the leadership of Narendra Modi as the BJP candidate for the Prime Minister’s office appeared on the scene. Taking the election stage by storm, among others, Modi made two momentous promises to the people of Assam. First was that while settling border disputes with Bangladesh not an inch of land would be ceded and the second was that the illegal Bangladeshis would be deported lock, stock & barrel from Assam. History now holds testimony that both the promises proved to be outright fake – outlandish bluffs and hoaxes.

In the matter of settling border dispute with Bangladesh, earlier the BJP rejected a Bill to this effect introduced in the Parliament by the then ruling Congress. However, on having romped home to the seat of power at the Centre, the Modi-led government tabled the same Bill in toto and had it passed. Next the land deal was signed with Dhaka. As per the deal Assam turned out to be a huge loser of land while some of the NE states made gains.

Again, during both the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2016 Assam Assembly elections, the BJP’s prime thrust was on deportation of illegal Bangladeshis from Assam. This indeed was the crudest, cruelest and most venomous thuggery perpetrated on the people of the state, courtesy a bunch of power & wealth hungry touts, goons and rowdies in saffron hue in the guise of ‘bhadraloks’ in the corridors of power in Delhi and Dispur. Instead what the saffron dispensation has given to the state is the CAA to ensure citizenship and ‘mati & bheti’ in Assam to tens of millions of Hindu Bangladeshi nationals at a much feared irreparable cost of demographic devastation, reduction of the indigenous to a minority, Assamese feared to be demoted to a second language on the basis of population in the years to come, the all-encompassing greater Assamese culture so painstakingly implanted by the great Assamese saint-reformer Mahapurush Sri Sri Sankardeva likely to turn incognito while giving way to the majority Hindu Bangladeshi culture as decades roll by. One wonders as to what would be left of the vibrant and radiant satra culture, presently bathed in milk of pristine humanism and unsoiled spiritual hallow, in fifty years from now.

During the 2014 poll campaign, the BJP promised that around two crore jobs would be created in the country. In that case Assam must have had its share of a few lakh jobs. Where is Assam’s share? Will the CM answer? During that campaign Narendra Modi also promised that in the matter of money laundering, billions of dollars siphoned out of the country and stashed in foreign banks would be brought back. Jokes of jokes! Till date not a single penny has been brought back.

Cracking absurd and ridiculous jokes to befool the masses is back in the election arena. Only the other day, during his visit to Nagaon, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that Assam would be made influx free and flood free. During the BJP rule under AB Vajpayee, the BJP and RSS ideologue LK Advani was the Union Home Minister. The regime is conspicuously marked by its failure to complete the construction of the border fence despite roaring rhetoric. It is now seven years since Narendra Modi has been at the helm of affairs and the border is widely open in vast stretches for unhindered influx. Again, during the earlier BJP rule at the Centre under Vajpayee and also over the last seven years under Modi as the PM and the last five years with Sarbananda Sonowal as the CM of Assam, the flood scenario turned from bad to worse with every passing year. By that yardstick 2021 may witness even more devastating floods.

Further, in respect of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, despite all boisterous jingoism by the Centre on its implementation, the clause is already on the funeral pyre, awaiting the fire to be lit. In the backdrop of decades of gross discrimination & bigotry against Assam, both by the Congress and the BJP, every poll-centric promise may be taken with a huge lump of salt.

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