Assam’s most eminent regiol political amalgam, the Asom Ga Parishad (AGP), has sounded the panchayat poll bugle in the State by deciding to go alone despite it being an alliance partner with the BJP at Dispur. According to party president and State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, the party would project and champion key regiol issues such as the foreigners tangle and mega dam controversy, of which the former obviously must outweigh others due to it being at the very genesis of the party. This party was a political offshoot of the six-year-long Assam agitation that sought to weed out every single illegal Bangladeshi from the soil of the State, which, unfortutely, is yet to be. The people of the State are definitely not oblivious of the fact that the AGP leaders were a highly spirited subtiolist response to what appeared then – when the agitation broke out in 1979 – to be a gradual and systematic Bangladesh-ization of Assam where one dark day the indigenous people would be reduced to a minority in their very land of birth. [This is indeed coming true, given the HS Brahma report that points to the domince of illegal Bangladeshis in 15 out of 33 districts in the State.] And such leaders, who were seen by the Assamese masses as the messiahs of a people whose existence as a socio-cultural entity had been badly jeopardized at the altar of vote-bank politics, looked as though once in power one fine day they would set all other priorities apart just in order to dedicate themselves to the Herculean task of liberating their beloved land of birth from a hostile and rapidly proliferating crowd of aliens from Bangladesh. Much water has flowed down the Brahmaputra since the Assam agitation was launched and the student leaders eventually stormed into the corridors of power at Dispur, with the people almost certain that now at long last they were in the safe hands of a dispensation that would go all out to free the State from the nefarious clutch of an alien population, with eventually, however, the AGP betraying not only their trust but also countering the very essence of regiolism. And today how does the party look like? A meandering boat that does not know where to go and how, or that cannot choose its way in the first place.
This sets the discomfiting stage in which the AGP has now to operate for a new avatar so as to be a credible political entity that the people – thoroughly cheated – could look up to in order to fulfil their aspirations long held hostage by successive regimes that have only excelled in perpetrating not only vote-bank politics on them but also total loot of the public exchequer. Needless to say, the party has to reinvent itself, thereby reinventing the regiolist rrative too. But how? First, it must infuse young blood into it. The youth are a major driver of the growth engine, a point often underscored so very rightly by Prime Minister rendra Modi whose whole focus has been youth-centric ever since he started to steer the country away from years of policy paralysis. When the AGP came out of the womb of a historic mass movement, it was a very young formation, and it was the youthfulness of the party that gave it a dymic hue that had the masses believe in an evolving paradigm of political culture quite distinct from the Congress-scripted one of total mass betrayal, especially in terms of what the country’s oldest political outfit did to its own people by facilitating the illegal settlement of Bangladeshis for cheap political mileage even at the cost of the security of this land. Therefore, the AGP has to again don the same attire as it had when it came into being – a youthful attire with new zeal and zest, robust and promising. But then the question is whether any youth with political ambitions would have any fascition for the party, or, to put it differently, whether he would have any reason to believe that he could have any future in it at all. It is here that the party needs to knuckle down and chart out a trajectory to attract the younger generation. But how?
This brings us to the second point. A political party that seeks to regain its lost crown and be seen honest in its endeavour to advocate the just causes of the people it claims to represent, must be fresh and innovative in its approach to the key issues confronting the masses. The youth of the State would turally be attracted towards a political outfit if it has something tangible for them on issues such as the alarming rate of unemployment, the elegant structure of corruption (a culture of sorts here), infrastructure development, education (which is always a high priority for the youth), health and hygiene, and furtherance of science and technology (including of course IT), to me just a few. What is the AGP blueprint to confront these issues and script a meaningful discourse on them? For instance, what would the AGP tell the youth if it were to be asked for its roadmap to crack the problem of ever-growing unemployment – one of the chief causes of youth unrest and their gravitation towards senseless violence? How is the party different from the ruling dispensation in matters related to health and education? What new ideas does it have? Yes, new ideas. This is what the youth are looking for. But one simply wonders how the AGP text of such new ideas looks like! Or, does it even have any?
It is in this context that the AGP ought to reinvent itself along with the doctrine of regiolism if it seeks to return to the hearts of the people of Assam as a young, fresh, dymic and intelligent party capable of adding to the quality of democracy here. Can it? Does it have the will? And vision? This is a defining moment for a lost force desperate to stage a belated comeback.