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Amit Shah targets new Assam party formed by activists

Union Home Minister Amit Shan flanked by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a project launch in Guwahati on December 26, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday targeted some anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) activists for “leading the people of Assam on the path of agitation” to eventually float a political party as part of a “conspiracy” to help the Congress win the 2021 Assembly elections.

He did not take names but made it clear that his attack was directed at the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP). Leaders of the AASU and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP), who spearheaded the anti-CAA movement since December 2019, floated the AJP in September.

“Election is coming up. Some people will try to take you to the path of agitation. Did their agitation lead to development or creation of employment or infrastructure? Only the youth of Assam became martyrs,” he told a gathering in Guwahati at a programme where several State government projects were launched.

“Some of them today floated a political party by changing their colours. It is a conspiracy to cause a split of BJP votes and help the Congress responsible for the shots (that killed the anti-CAA agitators) win the polls. But they can never form the government,” Mr. Shah said.

At least six people were killed, three in police firing, during the violent anti-CAA protests in December 2019. Their death was a throwback to the Assam Agitation of 1979-1985 where thousands had died.

As was the case with the anti-CAA protests, the AASU and AJYCP had spearheaded the Assam Agitation that ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in August 1985. The accord led to the birth of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which now rules Assam as a minor ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The AJP, being seen as the regional alternative to the AGP, was formed almost at the same time as jailed peasant leader Akhil Gogoi’s group, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity floated another party called Raijor Dal (People’s Party). There are speculations that the AJP and Raijor Dal would be teaming up to cater to the Assamese sentiments against CAA.

Grant for namghars

Mr. Shah praised the BJP-led coalition government in Assam for protecting the rhinos of Kaziranga National Park and said the Centre was committed to transforming the birthplace of medieval Assam’s saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva into something similar to the Golden Temple of Amritsar.

Sankaradeva was born in central Assam’s Batadrava or Bordowa, which has been central to the BJP’s narrative of “continuous assault by Mughals”. Swathes of land belonging to the monastery there as well as scores of others elsewhere in Assam are allegedly occupied by “illegal immigrants”.

The Union Home Minister took part in the distribution of a one-time grant of ₹2.5 lakh each to 8,000 “namghars” (Vaishnavite prayer houses initiated by Sankaradeva) for their makeover under the Assam Darshan scheme. The State has more than 1,00,000 such namghars and the government said all of them would be covered.

The Assam government had earlier allocated ₹155 crore for a facelift to Bordowa.

Mr. Shah also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for helping peace return to Bodoland through a peace accord in January. “This was evident from 80% voters’ turnout in the Bodoland Territorial Council elections a few days ago. Unlike in the past election, there was no bloodshed,” he said.

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