Vishal Priyam Deka
With the election to the 126-member Assam Assembly knocking at the door, the political activities have started gaining momentum. The mass electioneering and sloganeering have already gripped everyone alike with many national political faces, both from the Congress and the BJP, descending on the State to woo the voters. In fact Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have personally visited the State on a few occasions till now to canvass for their leaders and have kept a close watch on the political developments in the State. If on the one hand the BJP is blowing its own trumpet of securing the much-touted ‘100 plus’ seats, the Congress too have equally taken the bull by the horns. However, the sporadic tussles for power and the lack of a strong leading face in the Congress still remains a matter for concern for the party. The grand alliance, more correctly a non-BJP alliance under the Congress and the AIUDF, has recently faced a debacle in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) elections with many top faces of both the parties unsure about the fate of the alliance itself. But nothing much could be predicted in the field of politics! The BJP-led Government in the State, of late, has been at the centre of severe wrath and anger for some of its pro-capitalists and anti-people agenda. Though the schemes like SWAYAM (under which the government grants financial support to the youths fulfilling certain criteria), Orunudoi (under this the government grants a monthly stipend of Rs 830 to certain category of women), etc., have been greeted with a red carpet welcome, people at large remain dejected, cheated and worried.
The education sector has been in a shambles. Regularization of posts, provincialization of schools, all part of the BJP’s poll manifesto back in 2014, have not caught the party’s attention well in these five years. However, as a rule, certain political gimmicks to lure the already downtrodden and agitating teachers will be surely on the cards just like any other ruling party trying to woo voters before an election. The most disputed decision pertaining to the education sector came very recently when the Government decided to close down all the Madrassas citing the reason that the Government cannot sponsor education which preaches a particular religion. But who will tell these ‘omniscient’ political leaders that besides teaching a particular religion, madrassas, since their inception, have been nourishing students just like any other educational institute with basic subjects like English, Maths, Science, etc., being part of the curriculum? And does shutting down of these institutes not tantamount to depriving these students of their fundamental right?
The health sector, led by a powerful minister, also has been left under a dilapidated situation. In its five years of rule, the BJP could kick-start the functioning of only one medical college at Diphu, and that too the foundation of which was laid way back in 2010 during the previous Congress regime. Though the Government has announced launching of a number of medical colleges in a phased manner, whether these will be able to cater to the increasing medical needs of the people of Assam remains a million dollar question. The pandemic like the one mankind is battling now in the form of Covid-19 has exposed the sheer apathy of our government towards the healthcare delivery system. Ayurveda, the oldest medical science in the world, finds its importance here. Covid-19 has coerced the entire globe to look up to Ayurveda as the safest and fastest mode of recuperation. The necessity of research in Ayurveda and also the paucity of Ayurvedic experts are something which should be seriously addressed in this regard.
The BJP-led Government, which almost stormed into the electoral scenario in the State with its hallowed promise of preserving Jati, Mati, Bheti has been well exposed. The Government’s clandestine and surreptitious way of granting citizenship to the persecuted Hindus coming from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was the first-of-its-kind decision which was met with great public ire and outcry. The anti-CAA movement also saw five innocent souls making the supreme sacrifice fighting for their identity and indigeneity. If the CAA was not sufficient to put the cat among the pigeons, it was followed by other controversial laws, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act enforced by the Centre, the MSME Act, to mention a few, which totally downplayed the people’s sentiments. Needless to say that the BJP has dashed the people’s hopes and aspirations out and out, with sheer attempt to flatter the capitalists at the sake of common people’s emotion.
The issue of regionalism, like in every election, has been the most extensively debated topic this time as well. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), led by three egoistic and power-hungry leaders, have almost brought the core concept of regionalism, the basis on which the party was formed after the martyrdom of 855 lives, to its lowest level. It is no exaggeration to say that these cunning leaders who have betrayed the gullible voters every now and then with their ‘never to be fulfilled tall claims’ today stand exposed. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)-backed Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS)-led Raijor Dal and the Anchalik Gana Morcha, all owing their birth to the anti-CAA crusade, have pulled up their socks and are moving heaven and earth to reach the doorsteps of the people, with the sole purpose to weed out ‘non-secular’ forces from the throne of power. However, the biggest hindrance in this regard has been the dissimilarity or ideological differences amongst these regional outfits, which might lead to polarization of votes, and in turn roll out the red carpet to some other forces to gain power at Dispur. The greatest need of the hour is to make these regional forces converge under one sky and contest the ensuing elections under the umbrella of one outfit, a practical idea which would gain more reliability and credibility from common masses, for a sound alternative. It is crystal clear that after years of both the Congress and BJP rules in the State, only a regional outfit, soaked with non-partisan and secular principles, can look after the sentiments of the indigenous Assamese people. Only then Assam will tread on the path of progress and development.