Ahead of the crucial panchayat polls, the ruling BJP in Assam on Tuesday suffered a double blow when party MLA Terash Gowalla resigned from the state Assembly and the Assam bandh evoked total response across the State.
First-time BJP MLA Gowalla, who represents Duliajan constituency in the Assembly, said on Tuesday that he sent his resignation letter to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday night.
Gowalla’s resignation came hours after the list of the newly appointed 49 individuals in different posts of corporations and boards of the State was made public by Dispur on Monday evening.
Unhappy over the appointment of Sadiya MLA Bolin Chetia, who switched to the saffron party from Congress, as chairman of Assam Gas Company Ltd (AGCL), Gowalla said, “Without consulting me, the appointment in the company (AGCL) was made. I am not saying that you (government) give me the post, but at least I should have been consulted.”
Sonowal government on Monday appointed various persons, including politicians from the BJP, AGP and BPF, besides singer and a former chief secretary as chairman, vice chairman and directors of 40 public sector enterprises.
Gowalla’s statement over the appointment of AGCL chairman has indicated that an internal war is going on in the saffron party in the state. Earlier, party MLAs Rama Kanta Deuri and Prashanta Phukan had expressed displeasure when they were denied ministerial berth in the first cabinet expansion in April this year.
Similarly, Dispur MLA Atul Bora, who has strongly opposed granting citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis, had also expressed discontentment for denying a ministerial berth in cabinet expansion.
He had also alleged that local MLAs are not kept in the loop during the implementation of various projects in Guwahati.
Interestingly, this time also Sonowal government did not offer him any post.
Gowalla announced resignation as MLA on the day, when the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and over 50 other organisations called the 12-hour Assam bandh to protest against the Centre’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Winter Session of Parliament.
Despite government’s all out efforts to foil the bandh, it evoked total response and brought the normal life to a halt. Shops and establishments, educational institutes in almost all the districts remained closed and most of the streets wore a deserted look.
The response to the bandh call was spontaneous and various sections of people, including workers and employees voluntarily came forward to support the bandh defying government’s instruction.
Sonowal government had issued instructions to all its officials and employees to report office ‘invariably on that day and any absence will be strictly dealt with departmentally’.
Instructions were also given to DCs and SPs to hold meetings with business establishments and urge them to keep their shops open.
“Any deviation to the instructions may result in cancellation of trade licences,” an order issued to shopkeepers stated.
The spontaneous support to the bandh has not only put the BJP in trouble but also indicates that voters are gradually distancing from the party. Protesters rhetoric were abusive against the government making it clear that BJP’s popularity in the Brahmaputra valley has hit rock bottom.