AASU, AJYCP announce committee as they look to form political parties

Guwahati, August 19 (PTI): The AASU and AJYCP on Wednesday set up a committee of eminent citizens to suggest the two organisation’s future course of action, a step towards their much talked about political entry ahead of the state polls early next year.

Addressing a joint press conference here, the top leaders of the influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) announced that the 18-member ‘Assam Advisory Committee’ will fix the academic, social, economical and political discourse in order to protect the future of the indigenous people of the state.

The move comes a week after AASU, which was a part of the Centre’s high-level committee on Clause 6 of Assam Accord, released the "confidential" report, saying that the public has the right to know the contents after more than five months of submitting it officially.

"This committee will give us suggestions on what should be the future course of action of the two organisations. The only regional force AGP has joined hands with BJP and sacrificed Assam’s interest," AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said.

To serve the indigenous people of the state, AASU and AJYCP approached some prominent citizens of Assam and they agreed to become a part of the committee, he said.

The committee will have eminent litterateur and former Rajya Sabha member Nagen Saikia, and Padma Shree awardee and writer-journalist Arup Kumar Dutta as the members, he said.

The other prominent members are former Meghalaya governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary, who was also the director-general of NSG, BSF and DGP of Kerala, and National Award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua, also a Padma Bhushan awardee, among others, he added.

Environmentalist and former Gauhati University professor Krishnagopal Bhattacharya and former professor of Handique Girls’ College Basanta Deka have been named as the convenors of the committee, Saikia said.

Along with them, the general secretaries of AASU and AJYCP, Lurinjyoti Gogoi and Palash Changmai, will function as the coordinators for the initial activities of the committee, he said.

When asked specifically if the students’ body was entering the political arena, AASU chief advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said, "The non-political nature of AASU and AJYCP will remain. Now, what we can do being in AASU, that will be advised by this committee."

The AASU and AJYCP leaders along with those from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) have been separately making public statements about forming new political parties since the movement against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act began last year.

Senior journalist and Rajya Sabha member Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, who was backed by opposition Congress and AIUDF, recently floated an entity -- ‘Anchalik Gana Morcha’ (AGM) -- to fight the Assembly polls, slated for March-April next year.

Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday announced that Congress is working to form a ‘Grand Alliance’ of non-BJP parties, including the AIUDF, Left and AGM, to oust the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government.

However, he said the AASU-led new entity will not be a part of it.

Lurinjyoti Gogoi said the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which was formed following the AASU-led Assam Agitation of the early ‘80s, betrayed the expectations of the people.

"Since Independence, the Assamese people have been facing injustice. Our natural resources are being looted and the people are exploited. All national parties have worked against the interest of the state," the AASU leader alleged.

Gogoi said that during the anti-CAA movement, people from across the state asked AASU and AJYCP to "do something" to protect the interest of the local people and work for Assamese culture, language and identity.

AJYCP president Rana Pratap Baruah said that a joint state convention was planned for deciding the political roadmap of the two organisations, but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Then the executive committees of AASU and AJYCP decided to form this committee. We will move ahead as per the suggestions of this committee," he said.

On August 11, AASU released the Centre’s high-level committee’s report on Clause 6 of Assam Accord, a move that was criticised by the ruling BJP as a ploy to further the student group’s political ambition.

The report, among other things, seeks "declared foreigners" to be settled outside the state.

It also wants sealing of the entire India-Bangladesh border and reservation of almost all of the state’s parliamentary seats for the local people, and the creation of a legislative council.

As per Clause 6, Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.