DATELINE Guwahati /Wasbir Hussain
With barely four months left for the Assembly polls in Assam, our politicians seem to have gone berserk. If Congress leader Nilomoni Sen Deka decides to publicly say that Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani is regarded by many as Prime Minister 'Modi's second wife', AIUDF President and Lok Sabha MP Maula Badruddin Ajmal gleefully asks at a public rally as to what variety of meat was Modi eating or relishing at Pakistan premier waz Sharif's Lahore home.
Nilomoni Sen Deka has put the Assam Congress in a spot, but that is not the main issue. Why should Deka decide to utter such a thing in the first place? His reckless and condemble uttering has tarnished the image of Assam and its people. But strangely, he has been rather miserly with his apology for his conduct. Besides, the Congress party too has been lenient on him, saying since he has ‘withdrawn’ his statement, there was no need for any discipliry action on him. In his defence, Deka said people indulging in ‘writings’ (lekha-porha) at times say things without much of a thought! I would call it a ridiculous explation.
Then we have Badruddin Ajmal, AIUDF chief, who is also regarded as a religious leader by his followers in parts of Assam. While asking what meat was Modi partaking in Sharif’s Lahore home, he was obviously trying to polarise voters. After all, he began by criticising BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas qvi’s purported statement sometime ago that those who wants to consume beef must go to Pakistan. Now, what was the need for Ajmal to make that statement and incite commul passions? After all, he knows Modi is a vegetarian and he also knows that certain things are best avoided in a public discourse.
No one is ive. Everyone knows it is election time. But, I have been covering Assam elections since the historic elections in 1985, held in the wake of the Assam Accord, and this is for the first time that politicians in Assam have resorted to such senseless and condemble utterings. This indicates that none of the three major parties—the Congress, BJP and the AIUDF—are confident this time of a good performance. I am including the BJP as well because while condemning Nilomoni Sen Deka, BJP supporters and some leaders had indulged in ucceptable actions.
What is surprising is that none of the three major parties have so far indicated anything on their respective party agendas for the coming polls. They are only indulging in shallow and meaningless war of words which has no bearing on Assam’s progress or development. I am also a bit surprised at the sharp political bias displayed by some political alysts, both on television and print. This only goes to suggest the extent of polarisation of opinion and views, obviously along party lines. This, too, was not so open earlier.
One can safely predict from the turn of events that the elections in 2016 will be the determining factor for the shape of things to come in Assam. The society could well be split on commul lines, be it religious or ethnic, and a situation could emerge where it may not be easy to bridge the divide. The need of the hour is sanity among our political class and the civil society. Opinion makers must play a neutral, objective role. If they too take sides, then we are bound to see worse times.
Yes, the politicians will be bothered to win the polls in 2016. But, they too are products of the Assamese society. Their duty must also be to think of a peaceful and harmonious Assam for the future generation. For the time being, this may be too much to expect from our vote-hungry politicians because, as things stand now, majority of them are only politicians, not statesmen.