TNT PROFILES: Assam polls 2021 | Facts you should know about Debabrata Saikia
With a few days left for the Assam Assembly elections, let us turn our attention to one veteran Congress leader who stepped foot into Assam’s political scenario at a very tender age. This political stalwart from the Congress party in Assam rules from Nazira constituency and had also headed as the leader of the Opposition.
Debabrata Saikia was elected as a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly from Nazira constituency (also a part of Jorhat Lok Sabha Constituency) in 2011.
Saikia was born in 1964 and is the son of former chief minister Hiteswar Saikia and former minister of Handloom and Textiles Dr Hemoprova Saikia.
He completed his graduation in Arts from Calcutta University and is married to Bandana Saikia.
He is a father of two.
Early Political Career
Saikia started his political engagement with the Assam Pradesh Youth Congress Committee (APYCC) and became its General Secretary for a year in 1992-93.
He was also the General Secretary of the Self-Employed Review Committee under the APYCC in the same year. Later in 1993, he held the post of Vice President of APYCC from 1993 to 1996 and held prominent positions under the Congress party’s youth wing.
He became a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the first time from Nazira, 104 LAC in 2011 representing the Indian National Congress.
Saikia retained his seat from Nazira Constituency in 2016, even though the BJP had put up a strong campaign. Almost all Congress leaders were defeated in their constituencies except for former chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Debabrata Saikia.
This gave Saikia the most probable chance of becoming the leader of the Opposition, which was later sanctioned by the party high command.
Saikia’s appointment came into effect on June 3, 2016. However, he was removed from the status on January 1, 2021, as he only had the support of 20 MLAs instead of the required 21.
Debabrata Saikia assisted his father, the former Assam chief minister, Hiteswar Saikia, in all organisational work and political activities, especially during elections and by-elections in 1978.
Debabrata Saikia was the General Secretary of the Self-Employed Review Committee of the Assam Pradesh Youth Congress Committee from 1992 to 1993.
He became the State Convenor of “Bichar Bibhag” by the All India Congress Committee in 1994.
He was the Vice President of the Assam Pradesh Youth Congress from 1993 to 1996.
He was appointed the Convenor of the North East Congress Seva Dal from 1995 to 1996.
He became a member of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee in 2004.
He became the Vice President of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) in 2015.
In February 2021, Gauhati High Court upheld the Assam Legislative Assembly’s order derecognising Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Debabrata Saikia as the Leader of Opposition in the House.
With the court order, Saikia lost his status of Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.
As the leader of the Opposition, Saikia has been vocal on many fronts and issues concerning the environment, illegal mining, education, job reservation policy for women of the state, and many other issues.
While the NRC was a major concern in Assam, Saikia spoke on the divisive nature that would divide the minorities, particularly the indigenous Assam Muslims, adding that the NRC will not contribute to the state’s welfare but disturb the integrity.
When the fuel prices were shooting up, Saikia vehemently protested against the price fluctuations. When hospitals refused to treat non-COVID patients, he filed a PIL against them. He also sought aid to families who were badly affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also spearheaded the Anti-CAA protests in the state.
(Edited by Gabriel G Momin)