An Indian view on history, current affairs and politics

June 1, 2023

Assam Riots – A Clear Case of Misrepresentation & Vote Bank Politics over State and National Interests

The state of Assam is on the boil once again. The politicians are squabbling once again and playing the ‘blame each other’ again. Congress was quick to place the blame on Mr. Modi and BJP for their poll campaign speeches which they termed as provocative without trying to pin point the real cause of what instigated the riots. Mr. Gogoi, the Congress chief Minister who has been in power for over 14 years at a stretch, has failed once again since he did not anticipate that trouble could occur in the present highly charged environment during the election season. In his official statement he eulogized his own actions of calling in the Army at short notice and calling for additional forces from the centre. That done, the Chief Minister felt he had done his job and could go back to his other more important tasks. It is such a pity that in our nation loss of life is taken for granted and for most leaders it is not really a serious enough matter. Human life is not considered precious or critical in any scheme of things. It is all the more serious since the state has seen such riots regularly over the last few years in 2008, 2012 and now once again in 2014. Prime reason is the lack of effective action on part of the state government and the central government’s historical unconcern over the illegal immigration issue. This is a clear case of vote bank politics overtaking national concerns as far as Congress party is concerned.

The real reason behind the riots this time was the statement by a sitting Member of state legislature (MLA) of Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) who claimed that most Muslim voters had voted against the local BPF candidate in the Lok Sabha elections. It is also pertinent to note that BPF is an ally of the Congress in the state government. That explains why the Congress has refrained from laying the blame on BPF and instead has tried to link the riots to poll speeches by the BJP with sole aim of discrediting Mr. Modi in line with their strategy of keeping Mr. Modi away from Delhi – cost notwithstanding. This dog in the manger approach of the party just shows the extent of panic prevailing within Congress circles today. The Congress would rather use such occurrences to seek political advantage in this season of electioneering rather than take effective corrective actions to stem the tide of such happenings.

While Mr. Gogoi’s failure and lack of concern is obvious, what baffles one is the silence of Mr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of the nation who represents the state of Assam in the Parliament (Rajya Sabha) since last 24 years. What is the use of having a representative from a region if regional problems involving heavy loss of life occur with regular frequency and yet neither the state government nor the central government do anything worthwhile to prevent such occurrences? This is all the more appalling when the Prime Minister happens to be a representative in the national parliament from the same state and both state and national governments are being run by the same political party. It is a well known fact that Dr. Manmohan Singh has no roots in Assam nor has he lived there for any appreciable length of time. No wonder neither his heart bleeds nor his blood boils every time a riot takes place in the state that he represents – or rather misrepresents. The ever silent and ‘do not disturb me’ Prime Minister remains true to his persona that has not only let down Assam, but also the nation on so many past occasions by keeping quiet and letting things be. His penchant for avoiding difficult issues and staying away from controversial subjects is well known. In fact that is one of his strengths and part of his survival instinct from the day he entered the government in 1971. Mr. T A Ninan has rightly brought out in his article ‘ The Adjustment PM’ in the Hindustan Times dated 04 May 14, that Dr. Manmohan Singh is far from being a simple or unassuming man, he is quite the schemer who has worked hard to ensure that he continues to enjoy the privileges of a government bungalow, car with driver and a secretary since his personal accomplishments in all these areas are pathetic. There is no doubt that the good doctor has succeeded in his quest for all three, not only till now but for all times to come.

The conduct of the Prime Minister, with regards to the state that he represents, raises very pertinent questions on whether the representation laws from the states for the Rajya Sabha in the National Parliament are being misused by political parties for their own advantage at the cost of the nation. It is no secret that political parties use this route to Rajya Sabha as a short cut to cover for the failure of their leaders who either fail to win Lok Sabha elections by seeking popular public mandate or are incapable of doing so. No wonder there are cabinet ministers who have neither won any public mandate nor ever will, but they have been ministers for many years by using the Rajya Sabha route. The Prime Minister of the nation is a prime example of how this system is being misused. Without a doubt there is an urgent need in the interests of the nation to stop this malady. The very basic principles and the need to have members elected to the Rajya Sabha in an indirect manner from different states have been compromised. All political parties have to share the blame for this with Congress perhaps being the biggest offender since they have been in power the longest and instead of trying to stop the misuse, have actually benefited from this short cut approach to Indian Parliament without seeking any public mandate. It will do the nation no harm, if there was a law to ensure that only directly elected members of parliament to the Lok Sabha could be eligible for the top post of the Prime Minister. After all India is world’s biggest democracy and how the country can have a non elected head of the government. It would be to the credit of the next government if such a law could be enacted in the interest of the nation and to ensure that true democratic values are not compromised ever again in the future.

Author: Saroj Chadha

[Saroj Chadha is an engineering professional who served in the Indian Army for over 23 years till 1991.  Since then he has worked in the Indian corporate sector and specializes in Marketing & Project Management. He worked with a leading electrical switchgear company and as a Consultant with a US MNC as their representative in India to facilitate their entry in Indian market. He has worked as a Marketing and Project management consultant with various electrical companies in India subsequently. Today he successfully runs a joint venture company in partnership with the French principals. Apart from his professional work, he has a deep interest in current affairs and other subjects of national interest. He occasionally writes as a free lance writer on some of these subjects. ]