14 May, 2021

Brahmaputra Changes Course

Regionalism fades to background as an aggressive BJP pushes Asom Gana Parishad to the periphery

Saffron Dance
BJP supporters celebrate
Photograph by Getty Images
Brahmaputra Changes Course

In 2017, a book titled The Last Battle of Saraighat: The Story of the BJP’s Rise in the North-East had sparked controversy in Assam for terming Assamese sub-nationalism as “anti­-Indian” and a “subversive idea”. The book was authored by two political act­ivists who were actively associated with the BJP’s successful campaign in the 2016 assembly elections. For a large number of people of the state, sub-nationalism—jatiyotabad—is the indelible, undeniable marker of Ass­amese identity. And the book, by Rajat Sethi and Shubhrastha, was seen as an attempt to further the RSS’s idea of subsuming regional identities into an all-encompassing Indian nati­onalism.

Two years later, and after yet another spectacular show in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP would have reasons to bel­ieve that Assam has embraced nati­onalism over sub-nationalism. And the biggest sign of this would be the decimation of the flag-bearer of Assamese regi­onalism, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is facing...

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