Dissidence in Ruling Congress Dominates Assam Scene in 2015

Published: 25th December 2015 11:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th December 2015 11:49 AM   |  A+A-


GUWAHATI: 2015 was a turbulent year as far as Assam politics was concerned with ruling Congress hit by dissidence resulting in the exit of powerful minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who joined BJP along with several MLAs just months ahead of assembly polls early next year.

Another major event in the state was the process of updating the National Register of Citizens that began in March following Supreme Court's directive to complete it by 2016. Assam, with a history of more than three decades of insurgency, witnessed no major militant-related incidents of violence during the year with negotiations on with the two major rebel groups -- ULFA led by Arabinda Rajkhowa and NDFB led by Ranjan Daimary though not much progress was made in this direction.

Another development was the extradition of its United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) 'general secretary' Anup Chetia alias Golap Baruah from Bangladesh on November 11. Claiming Sarma's joining the party as a prized catch, a buoyed BJP made Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Welfare Sarbananda Sonowal its state unit chief to spearhead the election campaign.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's third consecutive term in office was hit by dissidence activity led by Sarmah who went on to resign from the Assembly but nine other MLAs did not do so and were later disqualified from the membership of the House for joining a different political party while getting elected from another party.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee had expelled these nine MLAs -- Jayanta Mallah Baruah, Pijush Hazarika, Pallab Lochan Das, Pradan Barua, Abu Taher Bepari, Kripanath Mallah, Rajen Borthakur, Binanda Kumar Saikia and Bolin Chetia -- from the primary memberships in November.

The year was marked by political activities within the major parties of the state in the run-up to the assembly polls scheduled next year.

The BJP, which had performed remarkably well in last  year's Lok Sabha polls winning seven of the 14 seats, has stepped up its membership drive and focused on making inroads in the state. A clear scenario of the political permutations and combinations for the polls is yet to emerge though parleys are on among the major players to form alliances.

The principal Opposition party in the state -- All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which increased its Lok Sabha tally from one to three, explored possibilities of a grand alliance for the assembly polls. The first phase of the ambitious NRC updating process has  been completed and the second has already begun. The process involves upgrading the NRC of 1951 by enlisting names of genuine Indian citizens, one of the key decisions of the tripartite talk among the Centre, the Assam government and All Assam Students Union (AASU) during the signing of Assam Accord in 1985.

The inclusion of names in updated NRC will be based on the data of 1951 NRC and Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971 and a list of admissible documents of pre-1971 period.

Chetia was brought to Guwahati after being handed over to CBI. He was arrested by Bangladesh authorities in 1997 on charges of cross-border intrusion, carrying fake passports and illegally keeping foreign currencies.

After being in Guwahati Central Jail for a little over a month, he was released yesterday after obtaining bail in four cases registered against him. Emerging from jail, he said that he will participate in the peace talks.

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland NDFB(S)  meanwhile stepped up its extortion activities and continued with violence and abduction in certain districts though sustained operations by security forces against the members of the group have led to the killing and apprehension of several cadres in encounters.


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