GUWAHATI, April 17 - Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi�s comment that the Assam Agitation was sponsored by the RSS evoked widespread reaction from those involved with the mass movement and everyone said that the people of Assam spent from their own pockets to keep the movement going for the cause.
The Assam Tribune contacted some of the prominent persons involved with the mass movement and everyone expressed their surprise at the Chief Minister�s comment and asked him to come out with proof to support his claim.
Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who led the six-year-long movement as the president of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU), strongly denied Gogoi�s allegation and said that it was the strength of the people of Assam, which kept the movement going. He said that the AASU had been agitating for the implementation of a 21-point charter of demands and following the Sivasagar conference of the Union, the decision to concentrate on the foreigners� problem was taken. He said that different prominent personalities from all over the country came to Assam to extend support to the movement, which included former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. But that did not mean that the movement was supported by the RSS, he added. He also said that Gogoi made the statement only to prove his existence as during its 15-year rule, the Congress Government failed to take any effective step to implement the Assam Accord.
Former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Nagen Saikia, who was actively involved in the agitation, said, �for the first time I have heard the news that the movement was sponsored by the RSS. Not only me, I am sure that it is news for all those involved in the movement.� He said that if Gogoi has any proof of the RSS sponsoring the movement, he should clarify it. He further said that he still supports the cause of the movement.
Former professor of Handique Girls College, Basanta Deka, who was also actively involved with the movement, said that such criticism of the movement is nothing new. During the movement, the Congress had often alleged that the movement was sponsored by the RSS, while, some of the Left parties even went to the extent of claiming that it was supported by the American CIA. If the movement was sponsored by the RSS, why the Congress Government at the Centre signed the Assam Accord and why the Congress-led government at the Centre submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it supported the Assam Accord, he questioned.
Deka said that cross sections of people of the State spent their own money to take part in the mass movement because of the cause for which the movement was launched. Even the business community supported the cause. The movement was not sponsored by any sectarian force and people of Assam, irrespective of their religion, participated and contributed to the movement. He also described the Chief Minister�s statement as a figment of his imagination.
AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya strongly criticized Gogoi for his statement and asserted that the RSS had nothing to do with the mass movement. He pointed out that in 1974, the AASU had launched a movement in support of its 21-point charter of demands, but as abnormal growth of number of voters was reported in Mangaldai parliamentary constituency byelections, the movement took a turn for the detection and deportation of foreigners in 1979. He pointed out that it was a mass movement where all sections of indigenous people took part, while some political parties had opposed the movement during that time. He pointed out that the orders of the Supreme Court and the Gauhati High Court proved beyond doubt that the cause of the movement was correct. The Supreme Court had pointed out that Assam was facing external aggression, while, the High Court made observations that foreign nationals would become kingmakers in Assam and there is a threat of indigenous people getting reduced to minorities, he added.
Bhattacharya pointed out that the Assam Agitation was the biggest mass movement in India after Independence and it was not influenced by any political party or outside forces.