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

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A Rejoinder

Assam Election Results

"Victory for Identity Politics, Not Hindutva in Assam" by Udayon Misra (EPW, 28 May 2016) echoes the general tenor of remarks on the striking election results in the local press and other media. As the disillusionment of the masses with the Congress turned into bitter hatred and there was no concrete alternative from the left parties, a master stroke of Bharatiya Janata Party tacticians created a wave of anti-Congress fervour by roping in regional ethnic parties.

The views expressed by Udayon Misra in his article titled “Victory for Identity Politics, Not Hindutva in Assam” (EPW, 28 May 2016) happen to differ radically from mine. What Misra has written echoes the general tenor of remarks on the striking election results in the local press and other media by and large. It centres on the discourse of identity.

One would have thought that the developments during and since the Assam movement of the early 1980s made thoughtful people aware of the fallout of this discourse, particularly the virulent anti-Muslim turn it took towards the end. This turn compelled prominent Muslim leaders of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) to hold a separate meeting and present a memorandum to the top AASU leadership listing their grievances and objections. Since then, the only result, however, unintended of the high-pitched rhetoric of identity has been the widening gulf between the khilonjias (indigenes) and the descendants of Muslim immigrants, many of whom had settled in Assam as far back as the early 20th century. That has put unimaginable hurdles in the way of democratic dialogue and politics, without which the common people are destined to suffer the vile machinations of the ruling classes.

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