Till a few months back, the political landscape of Assam wore a totally different look. The opposition parties, with the Congress in the forefront, were seemingly groping for a way out of the wilderness towards the political periphery.

In contrast, the ruling BJP with its boisterous and mighty-mouthed rhetoric and political & administrative showbiz seemed to be on a thundering march towards its much-hyped 100 plus target in the 2021 Assam Assembly elections.

With the 2021 Assam elections approaching, the political topography transformed to an electoral one, ushering a topsy-turvy terrain, while the pitch began to assume a different look.

Till then, with BJP roars lacerating the air, the pitch appeared to be totally curated for the BJP with its Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Chris Jordan et al all geared up to tear the opposition to shreds.

However, soon, changes began making ripples across the landscape. While elections are a bizarre cup of tea, as of now, it appears to be a hit-or-miss predicament even for several heavyweights, irrespective of parties. Presently, only three colossi are seemingly striding across the political firmament of Assam – Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sarbananda Sonowal & Badruddin Ajmal.

Whereas dupery, thuggery, gangsterism and even killings at times, laced with nasty money power have become the survival factors in our body politic, our Czars may be reminded of the immortal quote, generally attributed to the late US President Abraham Lincoln: ‘You can fool all the people for some time, some people for all times, but not all the people for all times’.

Contemporary history holds testimony to the truth that banking on the edifice of lies, falsehood, bogus rosy dreams or fascist savagery and the like, several ruling regimes across the globe have collapsed, sooner than later.

As the run-up to the polls gathers fume and election campaigns head towards a crescendo, the political observers seem to be at a loss in their computation over apparent voters’ choice. The present poll terrain appears to be a higgledy-piggledy jamboree sans any predilection, trajectory or frontage.

Presently, three major alliances seem to be in the fray. The ruling BJP-AGP-UPPL alliance, the ‘grand alliance’ that includes the Congress, AIUDF, the left parties & the newly formed Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) and the third tie-up by the two regional parties–the AJP & Raijor Dal. In addition, there are smaller groups or parties with very little hold like the RJD which is standing with the Congress-led alliance.

With all parties seemingly confronting uphill tasks, the ruling dispensation is bound to face public bombardment for all its commissions and omissions as incumbency jaundiced with negativity is inescapable. Terms like a dismal failure, ghastly, horrific, bleak, sunless & trigger-happy in the fascist mode (as the gunning down of innocents during Anti-CAA stir reflects) may be terms too weak to adequately portray the despotic & czarist disposition of the saffron brigade during the last five years.

In terms of development, it is a crestfallen vista of failures on all fronts. In simple words, the 5-year term is boldly marked by job loss, accelerating unemployment, non-stop skyrocketing of prices of all commodities including food items, cooking gas, diesel & petrol and what have you.

In essence, it is a non-ending anti-poor list of the extreme rightist government. Let the poor die, let the farmers die – who the hell cares? What seems to matter is wealth accumulation in astronomical figures by the corporate honchos, blessed with bank loan waivers.

On the law & order sphere, the despotic AFSPA  and the Disturbed Areas Act are a lot more firmly rooted in the state while charges like sedition, Maoist link, urban Naxal, waging war against the state, the disturbance caused to social & ‘communal’ harmony and such dreadful charges are slapped against anybody even at the fall of a hat.

Journalism has become a boon for the Godi media allegedly involved in such obnoxious activities like TRP tempering, but a bane for the genuine scribes banking on truth or exposing the misdeeds of the all-powerful Czars. Nobody quite knows who is the next journo to go to jail under framed-up demonic charges. The fourth pillar of democracy is cracking and even crumbling at certain places. The spine-chilling political landscape is just reminiscent of the early days of the Nazi regime.

In the matter of corruption, there is the full-throated howling of ‘zero-tolerance against corruption from the Dispur roof-tops when the ground reality portrays a mosaic of ever rising scams – to name just one, the Assam Police SI recruitment scam. What about the infamous Louis Berger (LB) bribery case? The Gauhati High Court handed over the case to the CBI for a thorough probe about four years ago.  Since then there is pin-drop silence on all LB fronts – legal, government & CBI. Has Dispur any answer?

Meanwhile, on the CAA front, the AASU has asked the political parties contesting the upcoming Assam elections to clarify their respective stand on the Act. Whereas the saffron brigade may ignore the call, its mock-up model, the AGP, may come up with a reply bedeviled with defiance of the Assam Accord, history & logic. Big joke! Again,  the pro-CAA BJP and its allies are seemingly caught on the AASU’s tenterhooks as the students’ body has decided to campaign for the AJP-Raijor Dal alliance in its crusade against CAA and the saffron camp.

On its part, Congress has released a ‘charge sheet’ against the BJP pertaining to the latter’s omissions & commissions in the last five years. The document poses certain questions vital to the very survival of the greater Assamese society, culture et al in the face of the anti-Assam CAA. The BJP may brush aside the same as ‘bullshit’, but that may not cut much ice among the indigenous.

Today, being cornered over its mountain of unfulfilled promises and utter failure to deliver, the BJP seems to be more on a defensive mode. Realising that no cake-walk is on the cards, frustration appears to be running loose even among some central party high-ups who seem to talk their heads out.

With practically all rival parties going all guns blazing against the BJP to protect the indigenous people, their culture, languages, their “jati, mati & bheti” and the fragile demographic structure, the going seems to be getting tougher for the ruling dispensation with every passing day.

While as of now, a neck-to-neck contest between the saffron brigade & the opposition looms large over the electoral landscape of the state, the last day-late night misdemeanor involving cash, liquor and the like prove to be a game-changer at times. Such nefarious game-changer roadmap can be initiated only by parties over-loaded with black money. It is anybody’s guess as to which party possesses mountains of hard currency notes.

Talmizur Rahman

Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at rahmantmz5@gmail.com