Congress struggles to find election issues in Assam

In her recent visit to Assam, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi struggled to spell out election issues in Assam. During an interview, she was repeatedly referring to “identity of Assam at stake” in her replies to almost every question.

A senior Assam Congress leader had recently said that ‘identity’ is the prime issue this election. “Government is bound to do development work… But they brought great risk to Assam’s identity through CAA,” he said.

It seems the opposition Congress is lacking confidence in taking on the ruling BJP on the issue of development. As if the party has admitted that in its five years the BJP-led government was able to bring development in Assam. It might be the reality, but admission of the ‘fact’ by the opposition party with a few days left for election is really piteous.

The Sarbananda Sonowal-led government has been able to set several landmarks in terms of infrastructure development as well as public welfare schemes in the past five years. However, it is the duty of an able opposition to show what is lacking.

While the issue of identity is of importance as well, the people cannot be fooled with such hypothetical issues. It’s been months since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) went through the floor of Parliament, but not a single one of those ‘3 crore Bangladeshi Hindus’, as claimed by the opposition, have crossed over to Assam. People have realised that the CAA is not going to cause a flood of immigration from Bangladesh.

Without delving much into the merit of the CAA issue itself, the point sought to be made here is that the Congress is in utter dearth of issues to take on the incumbent government.

At the same time, Sonowal’s side is loaded with arsenals on the identity issue as well. The eviction of encroachers of doubtful nationality from the fringe areas of Kaziranga National Park is no fake claim. It is widely seen as the boldest step of protecting Assam’s linguistic and religious identity that has drastically changed during decades of Congress governments.

The government’s massive attempt of protecting Batadradava, the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardev, from encroachment by people of doubtful nationality has already triggered the sentiment of Assamese people in favour of the ruling dispensation.

It is a pity that Congress, which was in power for 15 long years till five years ago, seems so lacking in homework to fight an assembly election.

(Views expressed by the author are his own.)

About Ankur Baruah

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Ankur Baruah is a social worker based in Majuli, Assam

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