Assam is in the grip of election fever, with hectic campaigning by political parties, and leaders hogging headlines with sound-bites and promises. But public activist Professor Deven Dutta remains untouched by all the sound and fury. Intensely concerned with problems plaguing the State, Professor Dutta gave his take on major public issues in an interview to The Sentinel.
How do you view the recent defections of politicians in the State?
Prof. Dutta: With utter contempt. These defections are not based on any principle or with an eye to public good. I even refuse to refer to the overwhelming majority of them as ‘politicians’, far less as statesmen. They, at best, are petty politickers. Almost all these defectors are absolutely unpatriotic, selfish, self-seeking, power hungry, unprincipled, treacherous, parasitic, rampantly corrupt, absolutely dishonest and cavalier time-servers without the slightest scruple of conscience. One can never know what the political, economic, social, cultural and other benign concepts really stand for, with the vast majority of these shamelessly defecting politickers doing somersaults without the semblance of an excuse and at the drop of a hat. Nor can anyone gauge when and why they are in which party and when and why they might jump or glide from the political north pole to the political south pole. A large number of our politickers are looters, extortionists, syndicate operators, crimils, murderers, rapists, black-marketers, bootleggers and moonshiners. What a pity that such law breakers are our law-makers: that they are the ones who determine our individual, collective, political, economic, social and cultural future! But, what is worse, they are the ones that are the darlings of voters who again and again vote them to power, making a travesty of democracy! Need to know more? I can go on ad infinitum but for the scantiness of space.
To resolve the key problem of the State, what kind of a party should the people vote in favour of?
Prof. Dutta: Problems are galore; the list is endless — flood and erosion, unemployment, economic backwardness, total breakdown or shall I say, absence of law-and-order, boosting theft, robbery, rape and murder. But when you refer to ‘the key problem’, it is without the slightest shadow of doubt, the unending infiltration of East Bengalees-cum-East Pakistanis-cum-Bangladeshis, encouraged over the decades by Congress governments at the Centre and in the State. This is the one single problem threatening the very socio-economic, cultural and political existence of the indigenous tribal and non-tribal groups of the tive and the assimilated peoples, cutting across language, religion, caste and creed. But, in whose favour should the people vote for, you ask. Yes, but where is that party? It is, in my view, not merely anti-people but downright anti-tiol and sinful or, should I say, a collective political harakiri even to bring to mind the Congress or the AIUDF in this context. The contemporary Meer Zumla and Baduli Barphukan have already prepared a blueprint which need not be explained to anyone with the slightest political insight. The CPI and the CPI(M)’s Central leaderships have long been known as looking up to the one-time USSR and Chi respectively for alysing and assessing anything happening in India while their Assam State branches look up to their gurus and mentors in West Bengal even to sneeze when they catch cold in Assam, which explains their total absence in the Assam Legislative Assembly.
As for the Bharatiya Jata Party, it has no difference with the Congress in vital, substantive issues like being hand-in-glove with the corporate sector, steel frame support to market economy and crass commercialization of everything around and the life-and-death question of Bangladeshi infiltration in Assam. Neither has it made a clear declaration in writing either that all Bangladeshis irrespective of caste, creed, language or religion will be detected and deported or even that the burden will be proportiotely distributed among all the states across the country. Now, the BJP clearly stands for the Hindu Bangladeshis (not Bengalees, please mind that) though some forces are hell-bent to use the term and spread for them a red carpet as ‘Bengalees’ no matter what happens to Assam, its tives and its glorious history, its economy and its gradually diminishing land and forest areas. As for the Asom Ga Parishad, once the darling of the easily swayed emotiol Assamese, fraught with internecine squabbles among the same confused and confusing lot of so-called leaders with the same old drab, worn-out faces and vague or no ideas, groping in the dark not knowing where, why and for what and some of them shuttling in the corridors of the Congress, the BJP and the AIUDF by turns, but flatly denying everything even after being caught red-handed by the media, the less said, the better. However, the danger of the present situation and the hanging sword of Damocles having forced both the AGP and the BJP to forge an alliance of convenience and be strange bedfellows, hiding the vagueness with a little bit of Fevicol, the tie-up may however, resuscitate the AGP for the time being. Be that as it may, it is the BPF-led by Hagrama Mohilary, the Tiwa Jatiya Oikya Mancha led by Ramakanta Deuri and the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council led by Tarun Rabha and Tankeswar Rabha who, by joining the alliance at this crucial juncture of the crisis of tiol existence, have shown signs of real political maturity. It is now for the people to decide who they will vote for, though the real fight against corruption, our socio-political gangrene, is a far cry no matter whatever party or alliance comes to power.
In the last 15 years, how do you rate the pace of development in Assam?
Prof. Dutta: Why do you want to provoke me? An uninterrupted tenure of 15 years for a single person as the chief political executive of a state, and that too, with the benign presence of a prime political executive with a Nelsonian eye on him at the Centre for ten uninterrupted years, elected “life time” member of the Rajya Sabha from the state, is not a matter of joke. The entire period is a disastrous curse on the tives of the State. What can you expect from a bunch of utter liars and looters of the people’s exchequer as their political masters, and a horde of spineless, corrupt and time-serving lazy bureaucrats and unquestioningly servile policemen with very few exceptions that can be counted on the fingers? What development can one expect from government servants most of whom come to office after 11-30 am, do little work except asking visitors to grease their palms, harassing old pensioners and leaving office at 3-30 pm if they see no hope of ‘something’ coming their way? Whatever has been sought to be passed off as ‘development’ by hoodwinking the people with rigmaroles of vapid lecturers is all mere maintence, and that too, with stinking corruption. Why talk of development and industrialization without itself producing one-fifth of the total requirement of electricity? The only ‘development’ that has taken place is growth in denudation of forest areas and killing of rhinos, elephants, tigers, leopards, bears and birds as well as occupation of forest and government land by foreigners, politickers, bureaucrats, police officers and land mafias.
According to you, are there any efficient candidate contesting this election?
Prof. Dutta: Maybe some 3 or 4 percent of the total contestants.