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Articulating new regionalism

Formal launching of a new regional party- Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) has stirred both discussion and conjectures

Assam Jatiya Parishad

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  15 Sep 2020 2:30 AM GMT

Formal launching of a new regional party- Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) has stirred both discussion and conjectures about its fate in the state politics. The fact that it has been formed at the initiative of the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) marks its presence different from other new regional parties launched recently. The AASU and the AJYCP constituted the Assam Advisory Committee to articulate the idea of formation of a new regional party and future roles of the two organizations. The AASU and the AJYCP will be keeping vigil over the activities of the new regional party even though the two organizations will remain apolitical. While the installation of the mechanism is a matter of details, this is going to facilitate a permanent relationship of the two organizations with the AJP. The AASU, while giving birth to the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in 1985 at a convention in Golaghat did not work out any such structured mechanism. The permanent relationship of the AASU and the AJYCP can be expected to facilitate entry of leaders from the two organizations to the new regional party instead of the AGP. Till recently the AGP has been the natural choice of the student leaders keen to join active politics after leaving the AASU or the AJYCP. After Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power and formed a coalition government with the AGP and the Bodoland People's Front, the BJP replaced the AGP in attracting the student leaders of the AASU and different student bodies of ethnic organizations. The AASU and the AJYCP launching the new regional party AJP, therefore, will trigger organizational worries for both the AGP and the BJP. It is, however, too early to hazard a guess how organizational challenge to be posed by the new regional party will affect the electoral influential of the two ruling coalition partners in 2021 Assembly polls. The slogan Ghore Ghore Ami (We are in every household) adopted by the Convenors' Committee suggests adoption of the strategy to reach out individual households for building a cadre-based party organization like the BJP and the Left parties. The AGP remained dependent on the support of the AASU and did not have a student wing. It launched a student wing in 2019 almost 34 years after its formation but it could not match the influence of the AASU. The moto of the AJP is outlined in its tag line "Assam First, Always and Ever". The fine prints of the motto still being worked out will be crucial in shaping people's perception on the new regional party. There are indications that it will launch a membership drive right up to the polling booth level before the full-fledged state committee is constituted in the convention to be held in the first week of November. This means that the state is poised to witness a flurry of political activities at the polling booth level where both the BJP and the Opposition Congress have already built organizational bases. People will also expect the political parties including the new regional party to display more responsibility in curbing the spread of COVID-19 infection and strictly adhere to safety protocols at their political gathering and activities. Saturation of hospitals with COVID-19 patients has sounded the alarm bell that large public gatherings may turn the prevailing pandemic situation catastrophic. Speculations are rife if the AJP's formation would help the ruling coalition or the adversely affect its electoral prospects in the Assembly polls. Even though the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has appealed to the AASU and the AJYCP to constitute one regional party that will be opposed to both Congress-All India United Democratic Front alliance and BJP-led coalition, the student and the youth body have been evading a direct response and maintaining the position that the new party will take the call on the matter. The Convenors committee of the AJP has also came out with the same reply when media persons asked about the KMSS proposal for uniting all regional parties under the single flag and single banner. Speculation is rife if the KMSS will now go ahead with the formation of its own regional party as the AASU and AJYCP as well as the AJP convenors committee have kept the issue hanging till first week of November. Formation of several regional parties have shaped a public perception that the development will lead to split in the opposition votes and benefit the ruling BJP-led coalition and this may make the new regional parties insignificant in the state politics. People are not looking at replacement of one regional party with another. They are looking for fresh ideas of regionalism that are relevant in the present realities and inspire them to pose faith in a party which can raise a strong voice.

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