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What does Assam's new Assembly represent?

The Assam Legislative Assembly is the highest forum for determination of a direction to the state and fulfilling all hopes and aspirations of the people of the state.

Assembly

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  15 Feb 2021 5:00 AM GMT

The Assam Legislative Assembly is the highest forum for determination of a direction to the state and fulfilling all hopes and aspirations of the people of the state. It is not just a law-making body. It is the highest temple of democracy in the state which is also responsible for protecting the people of the state and guiding them in the right direction. The 14th Assam Legislative Assembly held its last day's proceedings in the new chamber of the newly-constructed Assembly complex which is coming up at the site on which once stood the Janata Bhawan. The foundation stone of the new Assembly complex was laid way back in February 2011, and it is very unfortunate that it has not yet been completed even after the passing of ten long years. The reason behind this delay has to be shared by both the previous Congress-BPF government as well as the present BJP-led alliance government. But then, the present Speaker Shri Hitendra Nath Goswami must be appreciated for his efforts to at least hold one day's deliberations in the new Chamber of the upcoming complex, though incomplete. One must recall that the Assam Legislative Assembly was hurriedly shifted from Shillong temporarily to a tea warehouse at Dispur in 1973 after Meghalaya was created. The site where the Assembly and Janata Bhawan are located today was originally planned as a tea complex, complete with a large number of warehouses and an auction centre. But as the Assembly and capital were hurriedly shifted without any foresight, it is not the seat of governance which suffered, but the lack of foresight also shattered all possibilities of making Guwahati one of the most beautiful, best planned and greenest capital cities of India. While the approach to the present Assembly is from the western side (RP Road), the entry to the new complex will be from the GS Road. Once the new Assembly complex is completed and becomes fully functional, the GS Road will suffer, provided a proper plan for smooth flow of traffic is not taken up immediately. But the worst thing that has happened to the new Assam Legislative Assembly building is that it in no manner represents the culture, heritage, history, architecture and character of Assam. While Assam has a rich architectural heritage from time immemorial, the Da-Parbatiya ruins, the Deo-Parbat ruins, the Kamakhya temple, the Rang-Ghar and the Naam-Ghar and Xatra – the last two being the gift of the great saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva – all bear testimony to it. The main building of the new Assam Legislative Assembly should have been designed in such a manner so that it could reflect Assamese architecture, heritage and culture. But, unfortunately, what it most prominently reflects atop it is a poor replica of a religious temple of a neighbouring country, which is out and out disrespect, insult, indignity, contempt and disregard to the culture, heritage and civilization of Assam. Since the decision to construct a new Assembly building was taken during the previous Congress-led regime, the mischief was also definitely done at that time. But the present BJP-led regime, which had come to power with the promise of protecting the 'jaati-maai-bheti' of the indigenous people of Assam, could have easily undone the mischief, removed the alien superstructure and remodelled it in tune with indigenous architecture which reflects the rich heritage and culture of Assam. Replacing the alien structure with one representing the dome of the Kamakhya temple, the roof of the Rang-ghar or the top portion of the guru-asana of the xatra is not a difficult task, provided the government has the willingness to respect Assamese heritage and culture. Jyotiprasad Agarwala had, more than 80 years ago, highlighted the architectural heritage of Assam, and had particularly written about "the first impressions of the modernist architecture, one which is based on the simplicity and assemblage of global architecture," in the Naamghars created by Srimanta Sankaradeva and had called it a "revolutionary expression of architecture." Since the construction of the Assembly complex is yet to be complete, the government should immediately respect what Jyotiprasad had said, and remove the alien structure. It will hardly cost a few crore rupees to the state exchequer to undo the gross mischief. But then, the Assam Legislative Assembly building will, for all time to come, also reflect Assamese culture, heritage and architecture. All right-thinking people who are proud of and concerned about the art, culture and heritage, should raise their voice in unison on this issue. It is a serious issue and calls for strong public opinion.

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