DATELINE Guwahati /Wasbir Hussain
Exactly thirty years ago, a group of student and youth leaders floated a political party called the Asom Ga Parishad (AGP) after a massive convention at Golaghat. They promised to build a 'Golden Assam'. A week ago, a group of people who seek to champion the cause of the farmers and the 'working class' launched a new regiol party which they med Gamukti Sangram, Assam (GSA). The objectives sound similar—the party has been formed to begin a movement for social change and improve the conditions of the ‘working class’ and the farmers and generally push for a better Assam.
If the AGP was formed at the end of a six year long movement against illegal migration from Bangladesh, the GSA has come up after years of agitation by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) under the leadership of its firebrand leader Akhil Gogoi. The issues that Gogoi has been taking up for the past several years under the KMSS banner ranged from farmers’ rights to land deeds for the landless and a sustained campaign against big dams in the State. This gives an indication as to what the primary agenda of the new party, the GSA, is going to be.
The KMSS remains as a rights and pressure group, but the transformation of the movement into a political party has just begun. As a shock absorber though, Akhil Gogoi & Co. have declared that their party has not been formed with the sole purpose of stepping into electoral politics and fighting the elections. Gogoi, however, said the GSA may contest election at some stage if the situation demands. This, to me, is an unnecessary ambiguity that Akhil Gogoi and his colleagues have crafted and is directed mainly at that section of their supporters who may question them of their intentions.
The game plan is there for everyone to see: Akhil Gogoi has been saying that their political party would be providing the people of Assam an altertive to the Congress, BJP and the AIUDF. Now, the question is, if the GSA does not contest the elections, it cannot obviously provide anyone any altertive. Therefore, Akhil Gogoi will certainly say at the appropriate time that the GSA will contest the elections because of public pressure or because the political situation warranted such a move. If Akhil Gogoi and his colleagues are thinking of providing an altertive by not contesting the elections and rally behind a party like the AGP, I wouldn’t know!
Instead of trying to play politics right from the word go, the new party could have simply declared their agenda for Assam, announce its intentions to contest the elections, bring major regiol forces into its fold and launch a full-scale poll battle against its three main rivals—the Congress, BJP and AIUDF.
Unpredictability, however, is a hallmark of politics and the veteran Akhil Gogoi, who enjoys tremendous goodwill across communities in Assam, knows it well. He may be actually interested in first testing the waters. Towards that end, if the GSA is to contest the 2016 State Assembly elections, it is quite possible that Akhil Gogoi himself will not contest the elections, but will take charge in case the party secures the required numbers to form the Government.
There are possible scerios, but the fact remains that Assam needs a change, and a Government that can reduce corruption, is prepared to be accountable and lift the State from an all-round depression.