Article:Who is Anti-Assamese?Bikash Sarmah(TheSentinel,07/10/2005 )

Who is an Assamese then? We will have occasions later to come to that, and let the Axom Xahitya Xabha do its job of finding a suitable (there is every possibility of misusing the word \\"suitable\\") definition of \\"Assamese\\". However, despite the so-called technical oddities and political pressures, the Xabha would do well to understand that it needs a courageous and holistic view of the things around in order to arrive at a suitable definition of an identity called Assamese. Let us hope for a holistic view then. And let us hope that the view is based on conviction and integrity that our politicians lack and which is what courage is all about. Having said this, we must realize that the moment we ask who is an Assamese, the question \\"Who is anti-Assamese?\\" strikes us, to begin with. We must also realize that anyone who is anti-Assamese is obviously anti-Assam. This brings us to the undeniable fact that anyone who is anti-Assamese is obviously anti-India too, because Assam is a part of India and will remain so as long as our so-called secularists (who are actually secular fundamentalists of the day) do not gift away Assam to Bangladesh.

Politics — the nasty part of it — is a peculiar obsession with our leaders who practise it after enough of moronic theorizing and who conveniently forget the \\"service part\\" of it. We wonder whether they have ever heard of Harold Laski’s A Grammar of Politics. May be, this is too much to expect of them — our Assam saviours! Any political leader of whatever party in Assam who is in the game of politics just for the sake of his own political survival, is anti-Assamese. Remember, when we say \\"anti-Assamese\\", what we mean is \\"anti-Assam\\", having understood the fact that all the legal people of Assam are Assamese, regardless of their linguistic and religious identities. Would anyone muster courage to count such political leaders? Yes, it takes courage to count them and assess their strength — money and muscle power — because, whatever way you think, it definitely takes courage to face the truth as it is. And the truth is that our leaders have betrayed us, thus dooming a people, an identity and a nationality. Had they not worked overtime to betray us, the notoriety in the name of the now-scrapped IM(DT) Act would have been a fading memory long ago. In fact, there would not have been anything so draconian (so harsh on the Assamese identity) as the IM(DT) Act. It was the Congress that introduced the Act to prove their ‘secular’ credentials after giving an impression that the Assam Agitation was itself anti-secular. The Congress had a handy tool to implement the agenda resulting from such an impression. The Congress would ask: Was not the Agitation anti-secular because it sought to attack the Bengali Muslim nationality? The Congress would forget this (our question as truly secular individuals): Do not illegal immigrants have a religion and what is the big fuss if the religion happens to be Islam in the majority of the cases? The Congress would perhaps ask: Will not the spirit of the Agitation sully our image as a tolerant society? And the Congress would forget this (our question again, as champions of the Assamese cause) : Does one being a tolerant society means one being so tolerant as to lose one’s own lebensraum, identity, religion and culture just in order to accept a people who are illegal in every possible way?

It was the bounden duty of the AGP leaders — agitationists-turned-politicians — to ask the Congress our questions. It was for such a duty that the people of Assam gave the AGP such overwhelming verdict in 1985. They were asked to rule over a destiny haunted by illegal Bangladeshis. But what a misrule it was! One remembers the then Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta going an extra mile, appeasing the same illegal breed in his home constituency Nagaon. One remembers well how he undid the very spirit of the Agitation. And one also remembers how he was to make his AGP an exact replica of the Congress on the issue of illegal immigration. In this regard, veteran journalist DN Bezboruah had an eye-opener in his famous article Our Land, Their Living Space: \\"In any case, it was interesting to read the AGP’s election manifesto for the 1996 election... The AGP manifesto would have given anyone the impression that there were neither any illegal foreign infiltrators in Assam, nor any problems related to them... The reason became a little clearer when the Prafulla Mahanta Ministry had as a senior Cabinet minister Mr Abdul Muhib Mazumdar, the very politician who had drafted the infamous IM(DT) Act! Things became clearer still when all action against illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh was stalled, when the Nagaon district was given a Deputy Commissioner whose business it was to promote illegal immigration and illegal immigrants. It was clear that the secret of the AGP’s return to power after being in the political wilderness for five years was its ability to play the Congress game in the matter of using the clandestine vote bank. It was no more than a matter of loaves and fishes any longer, and the AGP was willing to make the same compromises as the Congress was.\\"

That was the real picture, stated lucidly. This still is the real picture — the fact that the AGP, whether led by Brindaban Goswami or Prafulla Mahanta, and the Congress are simply two sides of the same coin that has done the greatest possible disservice to the cause of the Assamese identity. Let the Congress and the AGP deny this, though it is a different matter altogether that denying anything of that sort has long ceased to be an idea for our politicians who would rather deny their hand in detecting and deporting the illegal Bangladeshis. After all, are not illegal votes required in a ‘secular’ country so as to come back with a thumping majority and then to shamelessly champion the cause of Assam? But one thing our Assam ‘saviours’ may do quite easily. The Congress should apologize for holding on to the IM(DT) Act for so long. It must admit that the Act was a crime against a people, an identity and a nationality — the greater Assamese society. It must say, \\"Please forgive us, we were badly mistaken. From now on, we will start behaving like Assamese in Assam, regardless of our linguistic and religious identities, so as to work for the uplift of Assam and prevent it from being annexed by Bangladesh.\\" And Sonia Gandhi must be seen congratulating the Assam Congress leaders for saying so! When it does not happen, there will be an answer to \\"Who is anti-Assamese?\\" and a bit of clarity before the 2006 Assembly elections.

When it comes to the AGP, the ‘progressive’ Mahanta must apologize as well. He must say, \\"Please forgive me as well. I was too foolish not to see the dark clouds that the illegal Bangladeshis catered to. I did commit the crime of not mentioning a word about illegal Bangladeshis in my manifesto in 1996. I did commit the crime of destroying the regionalist agenda by indulging in minority-centric politics. Henceforth, I will shun all pseudo-secular practices, forget vote bank politics, and be committed to just one cause — the Assamese cause — and stop the annexation of Assam by Bangladesh.\\" And Brindaban Goswami must be seen congratulating Mahanta for all such candour and hinting at the AGP’s re-unification with renewed vigour. When it does not happen, there will be a bitter answer to \\"Who is anti-Assamese?\\" and a bit of clarity as to the means and ends of the regionalist agenda before the 2006 Assembly elections. On his part then, Brindaban Goswami must also apologize for what he has been doing as the leader of the Opposition in the State — his vanishing role, his inability to identify issues and take them to the deceived masses, his failure to project himself and his team as true and patriotic regionalists, and his pseudo-secular avatar in order to woo the religious minority at the cost of Assam’s interest. And when it does not happen, there will be a whole lot of disappointing answers to \\"Who is anti-Assamese?\\" and enough of clarity as to the furtive acts of the \\"sons of the soil\\". Who is anti-Assamese then? It is for the readers to analyse and ask their leaders concerned. Remember, this question will have no relevance when Assam begins to be a part of Bangladesh. Also remember, only the scrapping of the IM(DT) Act will not stop the take-over by illegal Bangladeshis. There has to be secular courage to say that since the Islamization of Assam has begun following the Talibanization of Bangladesh, it is all the more important now to work for everything truly secular and democratic in Assam, the core agenda being the greatest good of the greatest number based on the principle of \\"justice for all, appeasement of none\\". Perhaps then there will be no need to ask who is anti-Assamese! But it takes tremendous honesty and integrity of purpose to accomplish anything of that sort, which is what courage is and which our leaders lack so miserably.