SILCHAR: Pramod Mahajan'sdynamism, grit, organisational skill and suave manners continue to haunt the minds of multitude of Assam. In fact, he became synonymous with Assamese socio-cultural ethos. His beating the drum with Bihu revellers caught the psyche of people of the state and made him intimate to them. He became quite friendly across the state being in charge of the poll management for the party.
Pramod'swit, humour and sarcasm lashed oratory at pre-poll bound public rallies to convey the party'smessage was par excellence. He inspired rank and file in BJP to go all hog and take the battle on the home turfs of rivals in the fray.
It was worth listening when Pramod Mahajan denounced and debunked the ruling Congress for misgovernance, rampant corruption, financial mismanagement, rickety law and order, stagnant development, growing unemployment, acute power crisis and unabated influx of Bangladeshis with well-documented statistics.
He set forth his agenda for Assembly polls-2006. BJP since its debut in 1985 was slowly and steadily gaining ground in Assam to play decisive role in state politics and governance. The task was tough and hard in a state with its multi-ethnicity, multi-dimensional demography as well as regional pressures and pulls.
Media savvy Pramod Mahajan told journalists, ?BJP is all set to do well to decide the fate of the next government at Dispur?. Most unfortunate, his hopes have been belied. Party leaders failed to rope in the weaknesses of split AGP (Assam Gana Parishad) and emergence of AUDF (Assam United Democratic Front), a conglomerate of 14 Muslim organisations, led by business tycoon Badaruddin Azmal with middle-east connections.
AGP, an offshoot of AASU, which ruled the state for two terms and was elected to power in 1985 on the issue of infiltration, is a declining force, being rejected by voters for its failure to address itself seriously to the burgeoning problem of silent invasion of Bangladeshis.
Nor could the party consolidate Hindus as AUDF cut into the traditional Muslim vote-bank of Congress that was stopped at the figure of 53 against its tally of 73 in 2001. BJP'sbest performance was in 1991 when it wrested 10 Assembly and 2 Parliamentary seats from Congress in the126 member House.
This time the party has to content with 10 Assembly seats?five each in Barak and Brahamaputra Valleys. In the last Parliamentary elections of 2004, of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, BJP won from Mangaldoi and Nagaon. The party, however, failed to register victory in any of the ten Assembly seats under Mangal-doi.
The greatest blow came from the loss of the prestigious Silchar seat held by BJP since 1991. Bimolangshu Roy of the party hogged the media limelight and earned public kudos for his stellar performance inside and outside the Assembly. ?He was the best legislator ever seen in action in Silchar?, commented Paresh Dutta, a senior journalist here. Roy lost to Congress candidate Bithika Dev, wife of Santosh Mohan Dev, Union Minister of heavy industries.
Of significance and little consolation was the return of a young woman nominee Dr Rumi Nath of BJP who trounced state minister Misbahul Islam Laskar of Congress. A Hindu majority Borkhola Assembly seat was held by Muslim since the very first general elections of 1952. Another achievement for the party was to win Dibrugarh seat, considered as Congress bastion.
The voters of Barak Valley who are mostly migrants from East Pakistan, now in Bangladesh, have begun to look towards BJP since the early 90'sas their savior. With their mandate, BJP demolished Congress citadel, in 1991. After that, it has been a different story.
It is time for both retrospection and introspection for the leaders to set the right direction. 2006 has taught lessons for correction. The best way to pay homage to Pramodji by leaders and workers is to commit themselves to fulfil his unfulfilled agenda.
(The author can be contacted at Satsang Ashram Road, Silchar, Assam-788007, e-mail: [email protected])