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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Explained: In Assam, new regional party Assam Jatiya Parishad sets up new equations

35 years after AGP, another mass movement gives rise to AJP, or Assam Jatiya Parishad. What does it stand for, and where does it fit in the emerging political equations in the state?

Written by Abhishek Saha , Edited by Explained Desk | Guwahati |
Updated: September 17, 2020 8:28:35 am
The AJP was formed with the backing of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP).

Ahead of Assembly elections next year, Assam’s political atmosphere is charged up with new political formations, the latest addition being a regionalist party — the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) — formed under the aegis of two most influential and powerful student-youth bodies. The formation of the AJP comes after an alliance between the two main Opposition parties — Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) — and ahead of a new party to be formed by jailed activist Akhil Gogoi’s peasant rights group, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).

What is the party just formed?

The AJP was formed with the backing of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) — although the two bodies have reiterated that their individual non-political character and identity will remain unchanged.

The same two student bodies (along with other regional organisations) had famously formed a regional party in 1985. After signing the Assam Accord, leaders (including of AASU and AJYCP) of the six-year-long Assam Movement against illegal migration came together to form the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which came to power soon after.

Today, the AGP is in coalition with the BJP in the state government. And it is another movement that has given rise to the new party. The AJP’s origins lie in the massive protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that swept Assam late last year. The AASU and the AJYCP were both instrumental in agitating against the law and the ruling BJP. They held that the CAA was against the interests of the indigenous people of Assam, communal in nature and against the Constitution.

What does the new party stand for?

The party was announced after the AASU and the AJYCP had formed an “Assam Advisory Committee”, comprising 16 eminent personalities, to suggest the course of action towards protecting the interests of the indigenous people of the state.

The guiding ideology of the new party would be “Assam first, always and ever” while its slogan is “Ghore ghore aami”, which roughly translates to “We are in every home”. Those associated with the party say that it will be regionalistic in its focus, taking in the views of the multitude of communities that live in Assam. The party is expected to emerge as a political opposition to “communal and anti-Assam” forces.

Where does the new party fit in the emerging political equations of Assam?

The Congress has announced it would ally with the AIUDF and any other willing parties to create an anti-BJP front in Assam. On the other hand, the KMSS of Akhil Gogoi (currently in jail after being booked by the NIA on charges of sedition and under provisions of the UA(P)A for his involvement in the anti-CAA movement) will be launching a political party soon to contest the upcoming elections. The KMSS has said it is not allying “with any national party or any communal party”.

Such varied political formations have raised questions of the anti-BJP votes getting divided. On the other hand, the new party will also be closely watched as a potential spoiler for the BJP by taking away a chunk of votes from erstwhile supporters who are now upset over CAA.

The Congress, in fact, has acknowledged the new formation. “Our doors are open for them to join the grand alliance. Our primary goal is to defeat the BJP — and their [the AJP] aim is also the same. We are opposed to the CAA and so are they. So, both of us have a common enemy. It is up to them whether they want to join us or not — otherwise we will proceed with the allies we already have,” Congress spokesperson Rhituporna Konwar told The Indian Express.

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Where does the BJP stand?

The state BJP leadership claims it is unaffected by such new formations. “The new parties or alliances will not cost us even a single vote. We have 42 lakh members in Assam and even if each brings one additional vote, we will garner a total of 84 lakh votes — and form the government with a majority,” State BJP president Ranjeet Dass told The Indian Express.

Minister of State for Health Pijush Hazarika, however, has already targeted the AJP. He told the local press that the slogan “Ghore ghore aami” was “copy-pasted” from the BJP’s slogan of “Har har Modi, ghar ghar Modi”.

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