Dissidence in ruling Congress dominate Assam politics in 2013
Guwahati: Dissidence in the ruling Congress, rise in kidnapping and extortions, violence following statehood demand by ethnic groups and unabated killing of rhinos were some of the major issues in Assam during 2013.
The state`s political scenario was dominated by dissident activities by more than 30 Congress MLAs who were allegedly dissatisfied with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi`s style of functioning and also of certain senior ministers and demanded a cabinet reshuffle.
The year-long rift was ostensibly buried on October 19 when Gogoi convened a special sitting of the Congress Legislature Party and all party MLAs agreed to put aside their differences and work unitedly for next year`s Lok Sabha polls.
The state, with a history of more than three decades of insurgency, witnessed relatively less incidents of violence with the two major group -- ULFA led by Arabinda Rajkhowa and NDFB led by Ranjan Daimary coming to the negotiating table but their splinter groups continued with their unlawful activities.
ULFA (Independent) and NDFB (Songbijit) stepped up extortion activities and the latter resorted to kidnappings, including the abduction of NHPC General Manager Anil Kumar Agarwala among others.
NDFB led by Daimary, who was released on bail in June, entered into a tripartite suspension of operation agreement with the Centre and state government in November wherein it was agreed that there will be no operation for the next six months from both sides.
Periodic talks were held between the pro-talk ULFA and Centre during the year but no major breakthrough or decision was arrived at.
The announcement of creation of Telangana brought to fore long-standing demands by four ethnic groups for separate states to be carved out of Assam with large-scale violence and agitation erupting in the state.
Bodos, Karbi, Dimasas and Koch-Rajbongshis demanded separate states and the hill district of Karbi Anglong witnessed long drawn violence over the issue whereas several organisations of the other ethnic communities resorted to strikes and bandhs bringing normal life to standstill in the affected areas.
Panchayat elections were also held in the state during
the year which were marked by sporadic incidents of violence but Congress emerged a winner consolidating its position in the rural areas.
The scenario in the five Autonomous Council polls was, however, disappointing for the ruling party, particularly in the Rabha-Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) where polling was held 17 years after its establishment and was marked by widespread violence.
Several non-Rabha organisations led by All Assam Non- tribal Students` Union and the Non-Rabha Coordination Committee opposed the council polls demanding exclusion of non-Rabha inhabited villages from the RHAC areas.
The Congress lost the polls to Rabha Hasong Joint Movement Committee (RHJMC) elections which won 30 segments. Congress came a poor second with three seats, followed by BJP with one. Independents won three seats.
In the Mising Autonomous Council, too, Congress suffered a major jolt with Ganashakti, a local political party, inflicted a crushing defeat on Congress winning 31 seats while the latter could barely manage three seats.
In the Sonowal-Kachari Autonomous Council too, Congress could manage to win narrowly with only 14 seats while BJP made a major impact, winning nine of the 26 seats.
The Dima Hasao Autonomous Council gave a hung verdict but Congress emerged the single largest party with 10 seats and managed to constitute the Council with the support of five Independents while in neighbouring Karbi Anglong, Congress managed to win but the functioning of the Council was marred by infighting within the party.
Meanwhile, killing of Assam`s pride- the endangered one-horned rhinos- continued unabated with 41 deaths accounted during the year and Kaziranga National Park recorded the highest with 34 killings, followed by three in Orang and two each in Manas National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
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