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‘AGP and BJP betrayed Assam’ — powerful students’ body AASU plans political party

AASU leadership argues that AGP, a byproduct of the Assam agitation, let the state down after it voted in favour of the citizenship law in Parliament.

Assam protests
Members of the All Assam Student Union hold a banner during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 in Tezpur Monday | ANI

Guwahati: The turmoil over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could see the rise of a new political party in Assam ahead of the 2021 assembly elections. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has hinted at the launch of an alternative to the BJP, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the opposition Congress in the state.

Top AASU officials said a “discussion” is on as the three existing parties have let people down. “…We want to start a political party. But it is in the initial phase because creation of a political party needs a lot of planning,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told ThePrint.

The AASU leadership also argued that AGP, a byproduct of the Assam agitation from 1979-1985, had let people down after it voted in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Parliament.

“The AGP…has betrayed us. The BJP has also betrayed the people. Before elections, the party had committed to implement the Assam Accord. And, Congress has always been playing vote bank politics by supporting the foreigners from the minority denomination,” Gogoi added.

He also said the people of Assam have no political alternative to raise their voices in the assembly or Parliament.

“Politically, they (people) have no option. Therefore, it is a question of ideology, question of philosophy. We are trying to establish a political identity, social identity through a political party,” he said.

AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath, who has been staying put in Delhi to lead the outfit’s legal fight against CAA, dashed to Guwahati Sunday for a brief visit. He addressed a cultural protest organised by singer-actor Zubeen Garg.

Nath similarly spoke of adopting political means to repeal the CAA. He said while AASU remains apolitical, if necessary, it will “go for political means by taking the permission of people”.

The AASU, which has given the state a number of leaders including its current Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the CAA, which it argues violates the 1985 Assam Accord that has a cut-off date of 24 March 1971, to detect and deport illegal immigrants.

The CAA, on the other hand, mentions 31 December 2014 as the last date to grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Also read: ‘Citizenship Act communal, don’t trust Modi-Shah’ — AASU to fight law in court & on streets

‘Three political parties have failed’

AASU’s chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya only said discussions were afoot about the launch of a new political party.

“It is being discussed among people….He (Prafulla Mahanta, a former AASU member) was chief minister of Assam twice. But he betrayed the people by not implementing the Assam Accord. The discussion is on…about what we should do. The priority right now is to get CAA repealed,” he told ThePrint.

Bhattacharya was the AASU general secretary from 1992 to 1999 during which Sarbananda Sonowal, the current chief minister, was its president. “People are thinking. You go to the ground. Talk to the people. The three political parties have failed,” he said.

Also read: Assam is my identity, Islam a personal belief. Don’t let India communalise an ethnic struggle