Guwahati, 21 April-2014(Indilens Web Team): Assam is one of the most beautiful states of our country with blue hills,green valleys and the majestic river Brahmaputra. It stands virtually unrivalled in respect of the variety of her natural resources and the diversity of population. Assam is one of the most beautiful states of our country with blue hills,green valleys and the majestic river Brahmaputra.It stands virtually unrivalled in respect of the variety of her natural resources and the diversity of population.
Politics or the political history in a region or State whatsoever, arguably, does not remain the same for all time to come. It is in fact ever – changing just as a turbulent river like the mighty Brahmaputra changing its course with the onset of the monsoons. The course of politics is changed and determined by a variety of factors such as the policy of an incumbent Government in a State towards the ordinary people, its success or failure to address the basic problems facing them like growing corruption at almost all levels of administration, rising inflation impacting the purchasing power of the domestic consumers, etc.
The politics of Assam, no wonder, is also influenced by such socio – political issues as everywhere else in the country. Indeed it is widely speculated that this time the results of the Lok Sabha polls in the State which are going to be held in the country for 14 seats in April – May this year may be determined by the failure of the Government to keep at check the growing rise of prices, to fulfil the separate statehood demands or grant to give greater autonomy called for by diverse ethnic tribal communities because this has led to a cleft in the greater Assamese society.
The politics of the East Bengal rooted minority Muslims in Assam is a little different from the rest of the population in the State. In a State, whether or not there has been abnormal growth of population of a particular ethnic or linguistic or religious group is not always understandable from the number of seats their leaders win in an Assembly poll. However, in Assam, it can be almost presumable considering the number of Assembly seats the leaders of a community secure as it is seen, at least 42 Assembly seats and 4 Lok Sabha seats.
Here, the issue of our discussion pertains to the East Bengal rooted’s role in State politics. Indeed, before initiating it in this regard, all we need to do is dig up their demographic growth. This is all the more important as it will enable us to draw a conclusion about how the East Bengal rooted gradually become an influential community in Assam politics. Here is the depth of their root and political legality in Assam.
1.Who are Mia Muslim:-
Muslims of Assam,especially Bengali Muslims have been largely engaged in the agriculture growth of Assam from the very beginning and are still contributing to the largest quantity of agriculture products such as rice,wheat and tea. Muslim settlement in Assam can be traced as far back as 1206 A.D when the Turks were defeated in their attack on Kamrup.In 1257 A.D Tugril Khan attacked Kamrup but failed to win it.He built first mosque in Assam in North Kamrup.In 1448 A.D Nawab Hussain Shah of Gaur succeeded in capturing Komalpur and appointed his son the administrator. During Mughal attacks Muslim population rose in Assam.The immigration of Muslims from other regions especially Bengal has taken place over a long period of time. As early as in 1874 A.D
2.Why Mia Muslim in Assam:-
By all accounts,one can see that Muslims have been living in Assam for a very long time.Their contribution to the economy of Assam has been tremendous and it will not be right to dub such people as”foreigners”.The contribution of the immigrant Muslims has been acknowledged by all open minded people of Assam.Muslims have been made the largest single contribution towards the economic advancement of the state but they have never received a fair deal either from the government or from Assamese society and are looked down upon when they speak Bengali.(Dev. B.J and D.K Lahiri,Muslims of Assam: Politics and Cohesion,p.18).
3.What History says about Mia Muslim:-
Through the election process,Muslims took an interest in politics and tried to participate in the political life of Assam with full confidence.In the first Congress coalition government in the state,formed in September 1938, Gopinath Bardoloi had included three Muslims in the ministry.In 1946,Bardoloi had two Muslims in his ministry. All the subsequent Congress ministries had sound Muslim representation.In this way the second biggest majority,has always been in the government machinery getting their representation from different political parties.It was not possible for any government of Assam to ignore them.
For the people of Assam, one satisfying aspect of the whole story with regard to the East Bengal rooted people (whom are presently called MIA)however is that they were not allowed to overstay in the State. Their lodging was made purely temporary largely thanks to the late Bimala Prasad Chaliha, the then Chief Minister of Assam. It was primarily he who took the initiative and made serious efforts at sending them back, and this, interestingly, yielded desired results when out of 2,20,691 illegal migrants, 1,92,339 were deported between 1961 – 71 and the remaining 28,362 reportedly were sent back later from 1971 to November 1978.
4.Assam agitation & Mia Muslim:-
There was great turmoil in Assam in the early eighties.The agitation which was launched against the so-called foreigners had reached its peak. In the wake of this pleasing development, there was apprehension as to whether this would lead to any strong reaction among the immigrants in the State and whether they would try to capitalize on it during the anti foreigners’ stir spearheaded by the combined leadership of the ASSU – AGSP later known as the AGP from 1979 in the wake of SL Shakdher, the then Chief Election Commissioner of India and former Secretary – General of Lok Sabha making a mention of the problem of foreign nationals in the meeting of the Chief Electoral Officers at Ootacamund in 1978. In fact, it became a much – discussed topic in Assam in 1979 when the names of hundreds of suspected Bangladeshis were detected during the preparation of the electoral rolls necessitated for holding the by – elections in Mangaldoi Lok Sabha constituency following the sad and sudden demise of Hiralal Patwary. However, nothing as was feared had happened. Throughout the six year protracted mass movement, the minority leaders had kept mum. Late Prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi had a spate of meetings with the leaders of All Assam Student Union(AASU). Security of Muslims was in her mind and she wished to see that they live in Assam peacefully.After the death of Mrs Gandhi,the next Prime Minister,Rajiv Gandhi entered into an agreement with the AASU.Assam accord resulted in the end of the prolonged agitation of the AASU.
5.Present status of Mia Muslim:-
Since the very beginning,Muslims in Assam supported Congress party as it was the only secular political party of national importance. On October 2,2005,the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,Maulana Badruddin Ajmal al Qasmi founded a new political party,the Assam United Democratic Front.In the April-May assembly elections of Assam,AUDF won ten seats but in the process.In several other constituencies AUDF failed to win but facilitated victory of right wing parties due to division of the Muslim votes.Emotional politics of Badruddin Ajmal sidelined mainstream politics of the Muslims of Assam.It has become a fashion to float small parties.Some desire fame while some are result of rebellion in other national parties.All these Muslims including Badruddin Ajmal dream about changing the society in one night.Candidates of these tiny political parties hope of victory in the elections but end up only cutting the votes of secular parties like Congress.There are also some who float parties just for creating nuisance normally backed by communal elements whose only aim is to divide Muslim votes.Such ulterior motives should be understood by the community.
However, with the rapid growth of their numbers – 156 lakhs in 1981, then 199 lakhs in 1991 and 224 lakhs in 2011, a majority of their politicians started floating a new political outfit – the UMF to field their candidates and side by side, they put up nominees on the Congress tickets against those of the opposition parties in the 1985 and 1996 Assembly polls in the State 17 and 2 respectively. The reason was all too evident – to play the role of what is termed – ‘king makers’. It is an altogether different story that in the election, the UMF of Golam Osmani garnered a mere two Assembly seats. However, in the current State politics, they can control the electoral verdict in as many as 60 of the State’s 126 Assembly segments thanks to the clout of Ajmal’s AAUDF formed just on the eve of the 2006 Assembly polls in Assam and that of an all India Muslim party like Jamiat – Ulema – E – Hind goes without saying, though it has no unit influencing them here.
6. Raising of AIUDF:
Congress government at the centre appointed Sachar Committee and its report has focused the attention of the community to the issues of socio-economic backwardness and unity with the backward section of the society.It is a formidable challenge to the secular-democratic section of the community to stay focused on issues of social justice and equality.Sachar Committee Report has the revolutionized whole concept of the policy making towards Muslims. Since the report saw the light of the day,the government has launched several fresh schemes which are benefiting Muslims.It is high time that assembly elections of Assam should not be viewed just as “another”election.For sustainable development,it is very much important that in the state and at the Centre,the same party remain in power.There are two ways of dealing with any issue,one by heart and sentiments and the other by logics and mind.For the Muslims of Assam,it is must that small Muslim political outfits like AUDF should not be supported.Support to such political parties will ultimately strengthen the hands of right wing communal parties a few of Muslim leaders thoughts and which has become true.On the other hand support to Congress will weaken communalists and will bestow upon the Congress the moral responsibility to speed-up community welfare measures which have begin after release of Sachar Committee Report.M. Badruddin Ajmal lead AIUDF has managed to bag 18 seats in Assam Assembly election last year which has become more jealous to self styled guardians of Assamese people.
7. Experts’ views:
Muslims of Assam are standing on a crossroad. They have to decide their future course of action.Congress is still best bet for them.If they will take opposite stand then their doom is not far away as the sword of “foreigner” is hanging on their heads which is till going to become true.But one thing we have agree that AIUDF like party will arise the core issues of Mia Muslim which are ignored by the past governments.Government takes a few steps to solve those issue in the fear of AIUDF.