GUWAHATI, April 29 � Assam Assembly Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi today asserted that aggressive nationalism has harmed the State, driving a wedge among different communities and indigenous groups. Interacting with media persons as the Guest of the Month at the Guwahati Press Club here, Gogoi said that he felt the angst and frustration of different communities during a discussion with more than 50 organisations representing the ethnic groups.
�Different groups have their own grievances. Certain indigenous communities do not regard themselves as Assamese any more. However under the prevailing circumstances and in the greater interest of the State, we should all come together. We have to be united to find a solution to our problems,� said Gogoi and observed that political parties for their selfish motives opposed his effort to find a definition of �Assamese.�
During the interactive session, Gogoi answered a host of queries that mainly revolved round the political and economic scenario of the State. He claimed that he would do everything within his power in the interests of the State and the people.
�Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is yet to be fulfilled due to the absence of a definition of Assamese. I took a personal initiative to find the definition by initiating a dialogue with over 50 organisations belonging to different ethnic groups. I believe the NRC of 1951 should be the basis for the definition of Assamese people for the purpose of reservation of seats and Constitutional safeguards as required by the Assam Accord. Unfortunately, my effort was stalled. But I am still hopeful that one day this will be achieved and the Assamese people will get the benefit of Constitutional safeguards,� he said.
He further reiterated that the NRC update process in Assam should be based on the 1951 NRC. Replying to the queries of participating journalists, Gogoi said that the 1951 NRC documents are still intact except in the two districts of Sivasagar and Dima Hasao, and some villages of the Barak Valley.
�I do not say things that I do not mean. When I said the 1951 NRC is available, I did so only after getting the facts right from the State Home Department. The relevant documents in other parts of Assam are very much intact. There should be no disputes as raised in some quarters over the 1951 NRC,� he stressed.
Gogoi observed that a Constitutional safeguard has become necessary for the Assamese people on account of all kinds of migration. �If migration is not checked, the Assamese people will be reduced to a minority community,� warned Gogoi. However, he also made it clear that those illegal migrants, mainly from outside the country who are already here, cannot be pushed out as no country in the world has been able to do so. He advocated defranchising them, if deportation is not possible, and to utilise them as human resources.
�Assamese people lack work culture, which has encouraged migration from outside the country. The pragmatic approach to resolve the issue will be to use these migrants as human resources and involve them in building the economy,� Gogoi voiced his opinion.
On the other hand, the senior leader, expressing his support for the land swap deal with Bangladesh, said he personally believed that this would remove the hurdles in securing the border of Assam and check influx.
A believer in destiny, Gogoi said that he was not keen to contest the 2016 Assembly elections as he believed that young faces should be given the chance. �However, no one knows about fate; so only time will say whether I am going to contest the elections or not,� he pointed out.
Making an observation on the role of political parties, Gogoi said that in the present times, no party should make the mistake of taking the voters for granted. He praised the maturity of the voters and added that if a party has to survive, it will need to gain the confidence of the voters by undertaking pro-people activities.
He concluded by requesting the media to avoid sensationalism and win the trust of the people. �Nowadays the people are losing faith in the media. Media needs to revive its credibility.�