Instability in Dima Hasao Council can retard progress

DATELINE  Guwahati /Wasbir Hussain

The BJP that had not won a single seat in the 30-member (28 of whom are elected) North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council during the last elections in 2013 had triggered a defection to overthrow the Congress-led Council administration in early October last year. Barely four months later, some BJP members (not the origil deserters from the Congress) ditched the party and returned to the Congress, once again making it regain its majority, and ebling the ousted Chief Executive Member Debojeet Thaosen get back to the post after a due floor test in the Council House.

 It was, however, not easy for the Congress to regain power at the Council. It was on January 4 that the then Council Chairman Subrata Thaosen served a notice to the elected Council Members informing that a House session was summoned on February 5. The Congress, whose strength had once again risen to 17, then served a ‘no confidence motion’ against the BJP-led administration headed by Niranjan Hojai. Hojai moved the Governor, who has powers over Sixth Schedule areas and its administration, to still claim a majority. Meantime, Council Chairman Subrata Thaosen resigned. The special session was held on February 5 but the ‘no-confidence motion’ was not moved. Filly, at the session held on February 11, the ‘no-confidence motion’ was moved and passed. Niranjan Hojai, CEM of the BJP-led dispensation, had resigned before the motion was moved in the House.

 The Governor accepted Hojai’s resigtion on February 12 and on the same day Debojeet Thaosen filed his nomition for election as the new CEM. He was elected as CEM on February 13. However, the said election was disapproved by the Governor on the ground that it was held without awaiting his action on Hojai’s resigtion. Left with no choice, the Council House went for a fresh election on February 16. Once again, Debojeet Thaosen was declared as the CEM uncontested.

 As the BJP tried hard to buy time, and the Governor was thoroughly involved in the matter and kept a hawk’s eye, governce had come to a grinding halt in the under-developed district. For four months, the Council was almost in a state of animated suspension as the BJP tried to grapple with the fund crunch in the Council and keep its flock together. The BJP saw victory in its ability to overthrow the Congress-led Council, saying it was the beginning of the end of the Congress in the State as a whole. The Governor sought to stick to rules but the Congress alleged that being a ‘BJP man’, he tried to give as much time to the saffron party as possible when it was hit by defection four months later.

Charges and counter charges aside, the near absence of political loyalty among the local politicians is a cause for worry. After all, in a 30-member House where only 28-members are elected (two are nomited by the Governor), it is very easy to pull down any Council administration through defection. It is all the more easier because the provisions of the Anti-defection Law does not apply to the Council’s legislative process. No wonder, although the district of North Cachar Hills (now Dima Hasao) got an autonomous council as early as in 1952, the place is under-developed. Perhaps, political instability and lack of adequate progress and lack of enough local revenue generation had led to the rise of insurgency in the area. Now, after the signing of the peace accord, the former militants, too, are fighting for the same political space, further complicating matters. In this scerio, any Governor of Assam must exercise his or her discretion to improve matters, but impartially. If any Governor starts playing politics to please his or her party of choice, things are bound to deteriorate further. On the whole, the Governor ought to play the role of a catalyst for development in Dima Hasao and nothing else.

 The impact of this political back-stabbing in Dima Hasao in the upcoming State Assembly polls is left to be seen. On its part, the Congress is now claiming that the BJP’s act of toppling its administration has been a blessing in disguise as more and more people are joining its fold from the saffron camp. Well, one has to await the results of Election 2016!

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