ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dialectics of Nationhood

Beyond Counter-Insurgency: Breaking the Impasse in Northeast India edited by Sanjeeb Baruah

ASSAM- Asom Sahitya Sabha-Retreat from Populist Politics

Retreat from Populist Politics Udayon Mishra ASSAM RELATIONS between the Assam government and the Asom Sahitya Sabha, the premier literary-cultural organisation of the Assamese-speaking people, have hit an all-time low. It's been more than two years now since the Sabha fell from official grace when, on the eve of its forty-ninth session at Diphu, the government decided to stop all grants to the organisation on the plea that the Sabha was no longer a cultural organisation but had turned highly political through its involvement in the anti-foreigner upsurge. At that time the Sabha leadership had reacted with courage and confidence born out of its involvement in the mass movement and had refused to be cowed down by the government pressure. It refused 10 oblige the government by giving an undertaking that it would desist from "anti-government and unwanted activities" and it declared that if would try to do without governmental assistance. Ambitions plans were also announced of starting a one-crore rupee 'national fund' with subscriptions from the people. Even while taking such a stand, the Sabha leadership had hoped that once a popular government was installed (those were the days of direct Central rule), the Sabha's confrontation with the government would end and the grants resumed. The Sabha was obviously too big an institution for any state government 10 ignore. But this was not to be. The February polls brought into power a government whose legitimacy the Sabha could by no means accept. Any overtures by the Sabha towards the Saikia Ministry were bound to be looked upon us an act of gross betrayal by large sections of the Assamese masses on Whose goodwill the Sabha was even more dependent now. Hence, the deadlock continued. On the other hand, the Sabha's relations with the other members of the Gana Sangram Parishad, of which the Sabha was an active constituent had started cooling especially after the February bloodshed which clearly unnerved the Sabha's leadership and led to serious doubts being raised about the Sabha's direct participation in the anti-foreigner movement under the All Assam Students Union (AASU)-All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) tanner.
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