Assam Government: Beyond the wave of change lies deep water of reality


Finally, a new government is in Assam riding on the 'wave of change'. The definition of 'change' was not clear, but it seems it was a desire to see a non-Congress govt. in the power. Interestingly, there is not much change in terms of individual politics or even in party politics. As for example, people have already seen how Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) has ruled BTAD in their past terms and their rule has been termed as misrule in many occasions. Despite that, BPF has won this Assembly election and now a part of the coalition government. Here, literary there is no change in ruling power for the people of BTAD. Same way, in many constituencies there is no change in MLAs. MLA like Phanibhusan Choudhury has won from the Bongaigaon constituency for the 7th term! What message do we get from this kind of 'changes' which are actually no changes? It implies that despite many promises during the election campaign, people of Assam are not looking for 'Miracle' in the name of change. People wanted to get rid of Congress Government, which has been always termed as a corrupt one. This 'want' to see a different government other than congress has emerged as "change" in totality. This 'want' or 'change' is not synonymous to love for radical Hinduism.

We must remember that BJP holds completely different views on some of the vital issues of Assam, which are not popular among the people and civil societies of Assam. The issue of big Dam and settlement of Bangladeshi Hindu refugees in Assam are two such issues in which BJP contradicts popular Assamese views. Even BJP's coalition partner AGP's views are so far with popular views of Assam. However, despite this difference of views, the BJP led coalition has achieved a land sliding victory. This does not mean that the people of Assam have given a 'no objection certificate' to the new government on the two above-mentioned sensitive issues. This means that despite such limitations the people of Assam is convinced that the new Government will try to fix some other important issues with honesty. In other words, this is the helplessness situation of common people. They are not expecting best of best things to happen to them, but are expecting some better things to happen to them. Hence, in this election, Political Parties and alliance had more importance than Individual candidates had. It seems, people trust a combination of Regional political parties and a National Political Party where the National Political Party plays the role of the Big brother.

Now the Coalition Government of Assam needs to face the reality. Government is not run by election hypes. The vision Document was prepared knowing everything. Therefore, please no more blame on the previous Government. Too many promises had been made during the election campaign. The Prime minister too made many promises to people of Assam during the Lok sabha campaign. But Modi as the Prime Minister failed to deliver same. There are now too many promises Combining both Lok sabha and Assembly election. Since both State and Centre are under BJP led government, this is high time to keep the promises. Now, Assam Government can't escape by blaming the Central Government when it fails to deliver. 'To Deliver' is the main challenge of the new government. A challenge that BJP had created for itself during the campaign. The new government also needs to understand that they are dealing with a restless and divided society in many fronts.

Contrary to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's clean image a large numbers of his colleagues in the Government had been linked to most of famous scams of Assam. Will the 'wave of change' be successful in changing their character too? Only time will say.

One major issue that was creating law and order situation during the Congress rule was the agitation against Big Dam. BJP and AGP too opposed the Big Dam who were in the opposition earlier. Now BJP has already cleared that they are in favour of Big Dams. Two of the main Student leaders who strongly opposed big Dam are now with BJP. Will AGP sustain their earlier stand on Big Dam? Was this an issue of political mileage only? Many consider the issue as a life and death situation and when an issue is such it can create unrest in the society. The new government should be rather well prepared to tackle the issue of big dam. In similar line, the promise of Scheduling of six communities of Assam as tribe that was made by the Prime Minister has to be fulfill now. Citing Technicalities as barrier to the scheduling will not impressed these aspiring tribes.

Chief Minster Sonowal has already announced that within two years Indo (Assam)-Bangladesh border will be sealed. The announcement was followed by CM's meeting with BSF officials. During his announcement, CM also said that once the border is sealed there would be celebration in the Indo-Bangladesh border like the Wagah of Indo-Pak border. One is not sure what to celebrate in this part of the Border. We need to understand that India-Bangladesh relationship is a friendly relationship and India had helped Bangladesh in its liberation war. People from Bangladesh migrated to India not to make India a Muslim country, but for livelihood. We just need to stop this illegal migration rather than to demonstrate our power at the border. However, many opine that it will be difficult to seal the rivers, which flows between the two countries.

The wave is over. Once considered as a secessionist area due to ULFA's struggle for sovereign Assam, Assam has now become Mainstream Indian territory with BJP government in its ruling crown, at least few feels. People shouts 'Bharat Mata Ki jai' now a days in Assam and the famous Assamese slogan "Joi Ai Axom"( Hail to Motherland Assam) is gradually fading away. The centre needs to understand the causes behind such shifting of position. It's time for all us to settle down in calm water and try to measure the depth of reality.

(Arup Jyoti Das is a Guwahati based author and former NE Correspondent of International Institute of Social History (IISH), The Netherlands)