Political Parties vs. Assamese Regionalism: A conundrum

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By: Bishaldeep Kakati

The agitation to safeguard the language, the most talked about Assam Agitation, and the recent fiery protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, all these agitations that have been occurring over the years have simply made us believe that the denizens of Assam have been compelled again and again to not only fight for their rights but also to shed their blood in order to safeguard their own identity. If we carefully scrutinize the scenarios, we would observe that in each of these protests or agitations, Assamese people had to make their demands sound loud and clear, but even then, most of their demands either remained unfulfilled or partially fulfilled. In fact, a sense of frustration always hovers around the thoughts and dialogues of the indigenous Assamese individuals, whenever they are interrogated about their rights, or the hopes they have from the political leaders or the political parties. And this is mainly, because most of the political parties or leaders in one or the other way have only viewed the wishes and desires of the Assamese people as some words spoken or written, that must be forgotten in due course of time. But the pivotal question is: What’s the way ahead going into the 2021 elections?

If we confabulate about the current political scenario prevailing in the state of Assam, then the first thing that comes into the ambit of our discussion has to be the formation of new political parties, as because every now and then the people at large have been made aware about the coming up of a new political party. And although coming up of new political parties can bring in healthy competition to the mainstream politics, but we also need to consider the fact that whether or not these political parties can really stand up to the expectations of the common Assamese people. Moreover, in the present context, the Assamese people desire those in power or those who are about to come into power to function keeping in their heart a sense of Assamese regionalism, so that the indigenous people can experience a sense of belonging in their own state, the same thing which is currently at dismay.

Speaking of formation of new political parties in Assam, this has a direct relation to the massive protest against CAA in the month of December last year. In fact, the scenes that prevailed during that time still float in the eyes of the people of Assam. Leaders, artistes stepped on the platforms of CAA protests and delivered dialogues that prompted the people to believe the fact that nothing matters more to them than saving the identity of the Assamese people. But as time passed, these leaders became more oriented towards making more and more political parties with the common notion of protecting the identity and the rights of the Assamese people. However this trend of coming up with more and more regional parties has made people obviously doubt the intention of these leaders who were strongly voicing out against CAA. The concerned citizens with regional sentiments have somewhat already expressed their dissatisfaction against the process of turning the entire CAA protest into the affair of making new political parties.

In a different outlook, the coming up of these leaders is no doubt necessary and important for the purpose of strengthening the pillars of regionalism, but at the same time, the sense of division amongst these leaders in terms of coming up with new political parties might be equally dangerous, when we speak of regional unity. In fact, if this sense of division continues for a longer duration of time, it would simply pave the path of further degradation of the very foundation and the pillars of Assamese regionalism. And currently the fact that distresses the Assamese burgess the most is the visible separation amongst these leaders in relation to each of these leaders thinking of creating a new political party, forgetting the fact that they once stood united and talked about being together in the longer run for the purpose of protecting the motherland.

Therefore the biggest conundrum is: why can’t these leaders unite to form one political party? In fact, with the rising number of political parties day by day, somewhere down the line, it simply seems that the leaders who took centre stage during the CAA protest are simply oriented towards designing their own political careers. And if with the formation of new political parties somehow people become baffled regarding whom to vote and not, that is when the opposition might have the last laugh and the entire hard work and sacrifice done in the time of CAA protest or in establishing a solid base of regionalism would go in vain and the Assamese people would be left screaming for their rights again. So the leaders before coming out with their individual parties must remember the quote, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Moreover, the various interviews of leaders that got surfaced either in electronic media or social media made people at large believe the fact that their issues or desires are almost the same, but still they can’t unite. As a result the bevy is bound to question: Is it the attraction towards power or the ego that prevents these leaders from uniting? But in reality, the need of the hour is the combined power that can further strengthened the identity of the indigenous people of Assam.

The matter of the fact is that the new regional parties that have been formed or about to be formed have been focusing on the concept of region based politics, which is actually much required for a state like Assam. But the biggest dilemma is that for some peculiar and unexplainable reasons, these newly formed political parties are finding it difficult to  collaborate as one to contest the elections, and if this scenario continues, then it would be literally very difficult for any of these parties to win. Henceforth these parties need to unite as one and create that strong vibe of regionalism similar to the one created by the AGP government, soon after the Assam Accord was signed. Furthermore, these political parties should eliminate the conundrum regarding the possibility of unification in order to put an impact in the context of Assam’s political scenario in the next year’s elections.

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