From Assam's New Chief Minister to Garukhuti Eviction Drive; Factors That Drove 2021 in Assam Politics
The year 2021 witnessed resounding popularity among the public of Assam and vouching for a new chief minister in the face of Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.
GUWAHATI: Amid the ongoing pandemic, the year 2021 has been a roller coaster ride for the state of Assam- be it COVID-19 protocols or the much sought after Assam Assembly Election 2021.
The year 2021 witnessed resounding popularity among the public of Assam, replacing the former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and vouching for a new chief minister in the face of Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.
However, since the new formation of the government or most of the pre-election period the state has been in the driver's seat when it comes to COVID management or implementation of policies and acts.
Let's take a look at a few of the important moments in Assam Politics this year
Assam in the last couple of years have been on war-footing and with the latest threat of Omicron, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) on Saturday announced the imposition of night curfew in the state.
The curfew will come into effect from 26 December 2021. However, the night curfew will be lifted on 31 December.
The night curfew will be from 11.30 pm to 6 am every day.
According to the order, all the workplaces, business/commercial establishments, Dine in restaurants, hotels, Dhabas and other eateries, the takeaway of food items from restaurants/dhabas and other eateries, the opening of sale counters, showrooms etc. of cold storages and warehouses, shops dealing with groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, will remain open up to 10.30 pm.
The order further said that jurisdictional DDMAs will fix the limit of gatherings depending on Covid situation in their respective districts.
Assam Election 2021: Assam gets Himanta Biswa Sarma as new Chief Minister
Himanta Biswa Sarma, the face of the BJP in Northeast India, has been sworn in as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam.
Dr. Sarma and the outgoing Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, met Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Sunday afternoon and put forward the BJP's claim to form the government.
The BJP won 60 of the 126 seats in the Assam Assembly election. Its allies, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL), won nine and six seats, respectively.
It may be recalled that Sarbananda Sonowal had handled the sports ministry portfolio in the first term of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government from 2014 to 2016 before he became Assam chief minister.
While Sarbananda Sonowal enjoyed popular support and did not have any major incumbency, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was the health minister in the Sonowal government.
Gorukhuti Evection Drive
An eviction drive in Sipajhar in Assam's Darrang district took a violent turn, leaving two dead and several injured after clashes broke out between the police and protesters. A horrifying video showed a protester armed with a lathi being shot by a policeman, then jumped on and stomped on by a civilian. Meanhwhile, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has also instituted a judicial probe into the deaths, and the civilian has been arrested.
In Assam, ethnic conflict over land goes back decades, and such eviction drives predate the current regime.
Earlier, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had stated the eviction drive was not against any community but encroachers. BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia had claimed the people evicted were "Bangladeshis" who came over the past few years and grabbed government land.
Majuli Boat Tragedy
At least one person died and several passengers went missing after a private boat capsized in the Brahmaputra river near Nimati Ghat in Assam's Jorhat following a head-on collision with a ferry on Wednesday. A woman died in hospital after she was rescued from the river.
As many as 120 passengers were travelling in the boat when the incident happened, an official of the Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department quoted.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he has directed Majuli and Jorhat administrations to undertake rescue missions expeditiously with help of NDRF and SDRF.
Expressing deep concern over the ferry accident in Majuli, Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed his ministry to provide all necessary help for the rescue operations. He also spoke to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and enquired about the tragedy.
The BJP-led ruling coalition clean swept the bye-poll in five LACs (Legislative Assembly Constituencies) in the State.
The Election Commission declared bye-poll results today. What is significant in the bye-poll results is that the candidates won with huge margins. With this win, the ruling alliance gained its strength in the state Assembly.
Yet again, Congress, AIUDF, Raijor Dal (Independent) and the BPF suffered a setback.
According to the Election Department, while BJP won Thowra, Bhabanipur and Mariani LACs, UPPL won Gossaigaon and Tamulpur LACs. BJP candidate Sushanta Borgohain won Thowra LAC with 54,956 votes, defeating his nearest rival independent candidate Dhaijya Konwar (Raijor Dal) by a margin of 30,561 votes. Dhaijya Konwar received 24,395 votes.
BJP candidate Phanidhar Talukdar won the Bhabanipur LAC with 64,200 votes, defeating his rival Congress candidate Sailendra Nath Das by a margin of 25,641 votes. Das received 38,559 votes.
Assam's War On Drugs
Social media has been abuzz with the success of Assam in dealing with the drugs menace in recent days.
The Assam Police has launched an all-out offensive on drugs. Over thousands of people, including women drug traffickers, have been arrested across the state and narcotics worth crores of rupees seized from them while a few also shot at in encounter.
The ongoing crackdown has also unearthed a well-oiled drug trafficking network, which spreads from India's Northeast to the rest of the country, and probably beyond.
Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021
The Assam government has amended a section Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 to allow transportation of cattle from one district to another, which was barred earlier, informed Ashok Singhal, State Cabinet Minister.
"Cattle Bill has been amended to allow transportation of cattle from one district to another, though it will not be allowed in districts having an international border," said Singhal.
The decision was taken following reports that people in villages are facing hurdles in selling their cattle and their transportation even from one village to another village.
The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill,2021 says that the sale of beef or its products will not be allowed in areas that have a predominant population of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and other non-beef-eating communities or within a radius of five km of any temple, satra (Vaishnavite monastery), or other religious institutions belonging to Hindus, or any other institution or area as may be prescribed by the competent authority.
The bill provides for the protection of cattle by regulating their "slaughter, consumption, illegal transportation".
It seeks to replace Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950. The Cattle Preservation Bill passed has been passed in the Assam Assembly on August 13. The bill was passed by a voice vote in the state assembly. The bill aims for making the cow protection law identical to other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka.
Crisis of Baghbor legislator Sherman Ali Ahmed
Sherman Ali Ahmed, a Baghbor legislator, said that the Congress party had asked him that if he wished his suspension from the Congress lifted, he needed to cease speaking about minority concerns. Sherman Ali, a member of Congress, was reportedly suspended for allegedly making "communal and inflammatory" statements. He was also detained for the same reason and is now out on bail. Sherman Ali now claims that Congress imposed some requirements in order to lift his ban.
APCC president Bhupen Bora has urged Sherman not to talk to the media and has also asked him not to speak about minority concerns, according to Sherman. "Congress is a secular party," he said, "yet this situation appears to be rather problematic." I'm baffled as to how Bhupen Bora could impose such a stipulation." He stated that Bhupen Bora had also told him that if he wanted to speak for minorities, he could join "Asaduddin Owaisi's party."
Sherman went on to say that now that these criteria are in place, he would confer with his constituents before making a final judgement on the matter. "I will leave politics if 51 per cent of my constituents beg me to stay in Congress and accept the terms." "However, if the majority requests that I stand by my principles, I will take the subject to the party's top command, and the ball will be in their court," he said.