Issues like insurgency and alleged illegal migration from Bangladesh have been the centrepieces of Assam politics for over three decades. With insurgency on the wane and illegal migration relegated to only rhetoric, what is Assam voting for? Residents say it is “price rise” and “governance”. The projections, however, indicate that the ruling Congress, otherwise beleaguered across the country, is expected to do well in Assam. So what is Tarun Gogoi’s mantra that his counterparts in other states have failed to chant? Some say he’s just been lucky, aided with a weak opposition. He has also been supremely successful in containing dissidence within the ranks.
The state government and the Centre can claim to have brought a number of underground movements to the negotiating table, but it must also admit to having legitimised extortion rackets (by the surrendered rebels) who have also managed to bag lucrative contracts aided by the government. The common man also ends up paying the price of such ad-hoc peace initiatives. Violence can never be measured only by bodybags; abduction, extortion and intimidation are violent too. Some reports say in 2013 Assam registered an average of 350 abductions every month, mostly for ransom.
But it is really in the Bodoland areas of Lower Assam where the 2014 election results will determine the next government’s first big challenge; the demand for Bodoland state and “50-50 division of Assam”. This is a demand that’s been going on since 1967 and the UPA decision on Telangana will now fuel the claims. Resistance has resulted in bloody battles with hundreds dead and lakhs of residents who are still homeless. The Bodo political formations have said in no unclear terms that they will go with whoever gives them statehood. During the NDA’s time, L.K. Advani as home minister had granted amnesty to one Bodo group and they have always had a working relationship with the BJP.
In postscript, Assam will not vote on issues that impact their daily lives but on emotional issues like subnational assertions or tribal and caste considerations. The Raghuram Rajan Committee report, 2013, puts Assam among the 10 least developed states. Its human development indices are abysmally low but it is unlikely that infant mortality or school dropout rates will influence voting.
Journalist Kishalay Bhattacharjee is the author of Che in Paona Bazaar
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Have often felt the electoral fortunes of the Congress would have been much better if it had several CMs of the calibre of Tarun Gogoi.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT