We will not be the only ones that are amused by ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah’s statement that no revolution depends on any particular leader. In other words, he is trying to tell people that revolutions can get started and keep going without any leaders. We are aware of revolutions that get started under leaders who eventually become more interested in their own persol fortunes than in the objectives of the revolution they started out with. Such revolutions are bound to fail because of the loss of credibility of their leaders in the eyes of the people. Such revolutions also reach a stage when people who are claimed to be the supporters of the revolution are really with the revolution only because they are mortally afraid of the consequences of ceasing to lend support to it. Revolutiories these days are invariably armed, and a time comes when they let the muzzles of their weapons do the talking. One such ready example is what has happened to the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). It has split with ULFA chairman Arabindra Rajkhowa leaving the outfit with his followers in order to engage in negotiations with the Centre. Paresh Baruah, who is left with the rump of the outfit, has been working desperately to increase the number of his cadres by recruiting more school and college dropouts, quite often with the use of intimidation. Paresh Baruah has also said that over the years, the ULFA had seen change of chairmanship four times and that Dr Abhizeet Hazarika is the fourth chairman. But everyone knows that the commander-in-chief of such outfits plays a far more vital role than the chairman. The ULFA has demonstrated that not only its chairman but also its commander-in-chief can function from outside the State. Both Rajkhowa and Paresh Baruah operated from Bangladesh for many years. So perhaps it hardly matters to the ULFA whether its commander-in-chief is based in Bangladesh or Myanmar. Likewise, its chairman too could be based in London for his location to make any difference to a revolutiory outfit that has ceased to make any difference to the aspirations of the people of Assam. The existence of the militant faction of the ULFA is beginning to be acknowledged more out of fear of extortions rather than any genuine support it has from the people of Assam any more.
Just because Paresh Baruah has failed to provide the kind of leadership to a militant outfit that could keep a revolution going with strong support from the people, it is wrong to claim that no revolution depends on any leader. History is replete with accounts of different kinds of revolutions all over the world at different times. India’s freedom movement too was a sort of peaceful, non-violent revolution that triggered off similar movements for freedom from alien rule in the colonies of different European powers. To claim that this revolution had no leaders would be a gross misstatement of facts. We had great leaders in people like Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and others who led this peaceful revolution successfully. Even Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution or October Revolution (as it is more commonly known) had great leaders like Lenin and Leon Trotsky. So did the other revolutions preceding the October Revolution that had brought the rule of the Czar in Russia to an end. One can think of a gamut of revolutions in South America, all of which had leaders. In fact, it is difficult to recall any revolution worth talking about that succeeded without leaders.