Thursday, November 26, 2009

Whose Mandate?

ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa cannot be unaware of the depleting strength of his outfit, the rapid erosion of its support base, its mutation from an insurgent outfit to a terror group, and what a vast majority of the people of the State have long thought of the organization — a front in the ISI’s firm grip. But Rajkhowa is trying to give a different impression, forced as he is by the changed circumstances. On Wednesday, reacting to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement in Parliament a day before that the government will hold talks with militant outfits only after they give up violence, lay down their arms and jettison their demand for ‘‘sovereignty’’, the ULFA chairman said that the minister’s comment only proved the Centre’s lack of ‘‘logic and courage’’ to initiate a discussion on ‘‘sovereignty’’. In a statement e-mailed to the media, he said: ‘‘Otherwise, it (Centre) would not have made such an irresponsible statement to stay away from the political process and solve the issue. Our stand is clear — ULFA won’t bow before India for dialogue. We want a political solution of the issues we are fighting for...’’ Rajkhowa also warned: ‘‘If the government wants to settle the conflict with us militarily, it should let us know by making a statement in Parliament, and we’ll continue to fight to establish the rights of the people of Assam.’’

Interesting indeed. It passes our understanding as to why New Delhi, as the ULFA chairman believes, should be short on ‘‘logic and courage’’ to deliberate on the sovereignty of Assam. The likes of Arabinda Rajkhowa should rather visit Assam, leaving their luxurious cocoons on foreign soil, and hear what the people of the State, and more importantly its new generation, will inform them of: that Assam is already sovereign because it is a part of India and India is sovereign; that the sovereignty of Assam stems from the sovereignty of India. This is the logic for the people of Assam at this point of time, barring of course for those for whom the notion of Assam’s sovereignty independent of India’s is just an expedient to be in the limelight (such as the few organizations in the mainstream that are only ULFA’s frontal outfits) or a means of being a stakeholder in the industry of so-called insurgency. The people of Assam cherish their sovereignty for which their past generations had sacrificed their lives and freed their beloved motherland from the grip of British imperialism. Did the Assamese freedom fighters and martyrs sacrificed so much for a sovereignty independent of India’s? Not at all — a reality that the ULFA leadership too cannot be unaware of but which its pretence and an imagined separate-nationality notion must distort. Therefore, there is absolutely no question of anyone lacking ‘‘logic and courage’’ to talk on Assam’s sovereignty. We are already a sovereign people of an evolving democracy called the Indian nation-state, despite its aberrations that are only too natural in a developing system.

That said, the ULFA chairman has talked of a ‘‘fight to establish the rights of the people of Assam’’. This is more interesting because we do not know of any mandate that the people of Assam have given to the ULFA to stage such fight. If there is any, let the outfit enlighten us on. But how about returning back to the long-abandoned motherland (now about to be taken over by nationals of the same country where the outfit has had its flourishing base for long, Bangladesh), joining the mainstream, doing a lot of hard and honest work to contest elections, and thus winning the mandate of the people to righteously fight to establish their rights? Time has come for the ULFA to take this as food for great thought. THE SENTINEL

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