With the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) snapping the alliance with the BJP, the regional political party is now set for a new battle – a battle to keep the regional agenda high against the ‘Hindutva’ agenda of the saffron party.
The breakup of the alliance between the AGP and BJP has already set the battle lines for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls – while the ruling BJP led alliance is set to pursue its ´Hindutva’ agenda in the forthcoming general polls, the AGP has to go to the people with the regional aspiration – freeing the state from the threat of illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
While the AGP’s decision to snap ties with the saffron party has elated the grassroots workers of the party, it is now to be seen as to how the regional political party counters the ‘Hindutva’ agenda of the saffron alliance riding on growing wave of opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
While the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has been pursuing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 probably looking at the forthcoming Assembly polls in Bengal, the AGP has to take the lead in convincing the people of the State about the negative impacts of the Bill particularly on indigenous communities of the State rather than riding on the rising emotions against the Bill.
When the regional party entered into an alliance with the BJP ahead with the 2016 Assembly polls in Assam, there have been oppositions against the move particularly from the grassroots workers of the party.
Born out of the six-year-long anti-foreigners’ movement between 1979 to 1985, AGP first came to power in Assam in 1985 winning 67 seats in the 126-member Assam Legislative Assembly. The party which came to power riding on the wave of strengthening ‘Assamese nationalism’ against the illegal infiltration, however, failed to fulfill its promises of detecting and deporting illegal infiltrators living in Assam, leading to a gradual decline in the party’s popularity.
The AGP not only failed to implement the Assam Accord, a historic document signed between the students’ leaders who led the six-year-long students’ movement and the Central Government to end the Assam movement, but also failed to utilize the State’s resources to usher in development and stop the spiraling unemployment problem.
The sharp rise in insurgent activities across the State also led to imposition of emergency and Presidents’ Rule in the State. Elections were held in 1991 but the Congress gained ground once again under the leadership of Late Hiteswar Saikia, riding on the failure of the AGP.
The AGP came to the power in Assam for a second time in 1996 but only to see more chaos. While development still took the back seat, clashes between the cadres of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) rebels and the surrendered faction of the rebels became the order of the day.
The second term of the AGP was marked by ‘secret killings’, an alleged state sponsored violence to kill ULFA rebels and their family members.
The Congress was back to power in Assam again in 2001 under the leadership of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who not only led the party to victory but also retained the throne for two subsequent terms in 2006 and 2011.
Monday’s development of snapping ties with the BJP could well become the much needed booster for the regional party in Assam, a state where illegal immigration from Bangladesh is not only a major political discourse each elections but an issue related to everyone’s emotions.
The feeble voice of the AGP in the discourse of ‘foreigners’ is heard on Monday, but it to be seen now as to how the party makes the voice louder and heard.