A sense of history is necessary to understand the pattern of the oppressive BJP regime. There is a difference between a sense of history and making of history.
The sense of history is nothing but an objective and imaginative understanding of what happened in the past. But making of history is all together a different thing. It is a positive and creative thing. It is difficult to fathom it in advance fully. In its glory and crisis Assam represents India.
The idea of India! How beautiful is it–unity in diversity! Think of Assam, isn’t it the same! The Northeast India of today was Assam once. But in time through education and exposure a middle class was formed in each hill community.
The state ruling party and we the people in the plains didn’t know how to accommodate the aspirations of our hill brethren. And Delhi didn’t have much problem with the new upsurge of the hill people as nobody wanted to secede from India barring the Nagas. That is how the division and further division of Assam took place. We the Assamese people were not happy with it. But we had no option but to accept it.
The latest development under the present regime is, however, all together a different story. It only reminds us to the Britishers and their divisive policies in the early years of our freedom movement. At the time Calcutta was the epicenter of freedom movement which also had a linguistic tinge.
The Britishers didn’t know how to deal with it. But, the demographic composition of the undivided Bengal offered the Britishers a good handle to deal with the situation.
Here I quote below a portion from the book From Plassey to Partition by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay.
“Indeed, it was the anti-Bengali feelings of the colonial bureaucracy, which Curzon was initiated into even before he became the viceroy, and a desire to weaken this politically articulate community, which seems to have provided the prime motive behind the partition. Home Secretary Herbert Risely made this point clear in his note of February 1904.
“Bengal united is a power”, he argued; “Bengal divided will pull in several different ways. That is perfectly true and is the one of the merits of the scheme.”
Curzon further believed that the Congress was manipulated from Calcutta by its” best wire pullers and…frothy orators”; so any measure to dethrone Calcutta and encourage alternative centres of activity and influence would also weaken the Congress. He was convinced that the “best guarantee of the political advantage of our proposal is its dislike by the Congress.”(Ibid: 253)
How do we see the current situation in Assam under the light of above? What are they trying to do in Assam? Aren’t they- the BJP regime trying to weaken the Assamese nationalism by numerous ways? Don’t we see a parallel pattern here to break the unity of Assamese people?
First, they are doing everything possible to divide people on religious line. By flouting all norms and their oath to the Indian Constitution at the time of assuming power, they have been spreading communal venom among the people so that there is a clear cleft among the Hindus and the Muslims.
Then they are trying to alienate the hill people and other tribal communities from the Assamese people. Now, the intelligent readers of history may accuse me here of my partial reading of history and quoting selectively because Britishers took advantage of another ground reality prevailing in erstwhile Bengal while partitioning Bengal. Let me quote again:
“The partition would also serve another purpose. As the Memorandum of Lord Minto( 5 February 1906), who had succeeded Curzon as the new viceroy, and the Resolution of October 1906 of Sir Lancelot Hare (the second Lt. Governor of East Bengal and Assam) indicated, this would destroy the virtual “class rule” by the Bengali bhadralok, or the landowning, money-lending, professional and clerical classes, belonging mostly to three Hindu upper castes of Brahman, Kayastha and Baidya.
They monopolized education and employment to the virtual exclusion of all other communities, and this was the main source of political power. So the antidote to bhadralok power was to encourage the development of other communities, in this case it was the Muslims who captured the attention of the colonial rulers.” (Ibid 253,254)
Another parallel with the past. Yes, nobody could deny the upper caste domination of tribal and other lower caste communities in Assam at a point of time. But then what does the BJP mean? Is it not the party of the upper caste Hindus?
And another thing–how much development have we seen in the Sixth Schedule areas in Assam, though the spirit of Sixth Schedule was well meaning? And then think of the sops of numerous autonomous councils?
Oh how they have sprouted everywhere in the state! Alas it has failed miserably except creating a comprador and elite class among the hill people and other tribal communities. Britishers were a little truthful and well meaning and had some modicum of civility.
The present regime lacks all these. Their sole objective is to stick to power at any cost. The latest bait is the declaration of Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) with a new package so that they could weaken the anti-CAA movement.