Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Times of AGP

Had it not been for a weak and ineffective Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi would not be as confident about scripting a ‘‘hat-trick’’ in the 2011 Assembly elections in the State as he was on Monday. Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the State council of ministers at Dispur, he said that in 2011 the Congress would set a ‘‘hat-trick’’ record in Assam by romping home for the third consecutive term. Though the results of the recent by-polls in the State (with both the seats for which polls were held going to the Congress) cannot be an exact premise for predicting which way the winds will blow in the Assembly elections about one-and-a-half years away, one can safely infer that it is the ruling party, and not in any way the AGP, that has capitalized on electoral dynamics. The Congress is embarking on a spirited course, despite the gimmickry entailed in its development story, while the AGP fumbles for a formula to keep its clock ticking. And all this, notwithstanding the scope for the regional party to profit from its many experiences of defeats and setbacks in recent times, be it in elections or as manifest in squabbles within the party for party positions. If today the Congress in Assam is at its arrogant best since the AGP was born in 1985, and if the ruling party can afford to simply dismiss or rubbish what the so-called principal opposition party in the State occasionally makes a noise about, it is all due to the AGP itself — thanks to its sheer incompetence in raising the issues of the day in the right manner and its inability to do the necessary homework. The AGP, in other words, is itself making a mockery of its genesis and the regionalist promise.

So has the AGP trajectory come to a premature end? The next one-and-a-half years, before the people of the State elect their new government, are so crucial for the regional party that if it fails to recuperate from its present disarrayed, directionless state and presents an alternative governance-administration model, it will by then have written its own classic obituary. Or has the AGP leadership, realizing its inherent inabilities in relation to the decisive contest ahead, already surrendered? One only hopes this is proven wrong. This is not to espouse the cause of the AGP that must anyway stand on its own strength and that alone can save itself, but to drive home the crux of a functioning democracy: a responsible and effective opposition reflecting the genuine concerns of the people and capable of making them aware of how their elected government has failed them; an opposition whose opposition to the government stems not from the undemocratic dictum of ‘‘opposition for the sake of opposing the government’’, but from a desire to serve the people by helping them open their eyes to such crimes as loot in the name of development orchestrated by an anti-people ruling dispensation.

The bottom line is simple: the future of democracy in Assam is also a function of the AGP’s future, all of which depends on the kind of leadership that will steer its wheels in the run-up to the 2011 Assembly elections. The present leadership has only proved its incompetence. It must go then. But this alone will not suffice if the party fails to evolve as an entity with a better development road map for the people of the State to prefer it to the Congress. This calls for smart, intelligent leaders dedicated to a radical vision document. Are there any? THE SENTINEL

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