“Today people are the actors and the country is the theatre. Hurry up whoever wants to play your roles in it. The time is running out —–.”
Decades ago the great maestro, Bhupen Hazarika composed this famous song. It was a bold song with a strong and positive message.
The politics today has reversed the meaning of the song. We have been witnessing the greatest theatricality of our time in the form of politics in Assam.
Politics is not a serious engagement now, it is a farce.
The irony is that the farce is being played again and we are just passive part takers in it. In this drama we are not taking any active roles to change our destiny as wished by the maestro.
We are being played upon and played against each other. For example the ruling dispensation at the Centre introduced a bill in 2016 to amend the Citizenship Act 1955.
When this was assailed by the opposition, a JPC was formed to hear the public option on the matter, particularly from the people of the affected area. What did the chairman of the JPC do first? He issued a statement saying that there should not be any problem in offering citizenship to the Hindu foreigners as the country was partitioned on the basis of religion.
How wonderful! JPC was formed to go into the details of the amendment and seek views of the stakeholders on the proposed amendment.
But before beginning his work he sat on the judgment and derailed the entire process. This was mentioned in the memorandum of Axam Nagarik Samaj which was submitted to the JPC in May, 2018.
When a jealous member of the JPC took exception to its mentioning in the memorandum and the ANS delegates stuck to its gun, only response from the chairman of the JPC was a mischievous smile.
Please don’t forget that he was a ruling party MP. That is how this party violates all parliamentary etiquettes and norms. After the grueling consultation process, the JPC submitted its recommendations on the expected line, ignoring all the submissions and even a few amendments in the proposed bill by the opposition members of the JPC.
What will happen now? Nothing will happen except political buffoonery. The bill may be submitted in the Lok Sabha and it may even be passed. Perhaps it will in all probability get stuck in the Rajya Sabha as the ruling party lacks the requisite number in the Upper House.
But still they will appeal to their constituency – Hindus saying that their hearts goes out to them. They would say that they couldn’t complete the process this time because they don’t have the number in the Rajya Sabha.
But still the Hindus should vote for them overwhelmingly so that they can come to power again and complete this process next time. What are they going to say to the nationalist minded Assamese people?
Oh for them with pride body language they announced yesterday that a high level committee would be formed to accord certain constitutional safeguards to them. And what are they going to do for the Bodos?
They would do this and that to protect their cultural heritage and et al. Now anybody can ask the government. If you were sincere and serious about offering certain constitutional safeguards to the Assamese people why were you waiting so long? Why didn’t you offer them? What have you offered finally is nothing but just an announcement at the fag end of the term of your government. What is so great to be euphoric about it? Isn’t it a ploy to hoodwink Assamese people once again to garner their votes in the next elections?
Already your friendly newspapers have welcomed it with banner headlines. And you will surely build a narrative around it and try to win next round of elections around this narrative.
And the rest of us will go to the road with hammer and tongs to protest against this, as was done in last two-three years. Thus the never ending circusy circle will continue.
But it will be wrong to blame it entirely on the ruling clique. As if unwittingly all of us are playing to their ploy! For decades we have been celebrating identity politics in Assam and we have seen where it has led us to.
For example, look at the foreigners’ issue. The State is being dragged into a whirlpool of tensions for last four decades by this issue.
Then, why was all these hullabaloo all these years on this issue? It is plain and simple. It served the politics of some people. So it is high time we changed this narrative and came out of our identity complex.
If we change this narrative the entire political scenario of the State will change and genuine questions will be asked. It is not that we don’t have difficult and complex questions related to different communities living in the State. But, that shouldn’t obliterate the common economic issues cutting across communities.
It seems all of us, to the benefit of the rulers, have forgotten those issues and got ourselves busy only in malleable emotive issues. Here intellectuals and various civil society organizations have also a role to play.