A leader’s dream of self-rule
Hemprek kanthim (autonomous state) has been current BJP leader Horen Sing Bey’s dream for ages.
The dream of a self-ruled homeland germinated in the minds of the voters of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao (former NC Hills) in the eighties.
People strove for it in various ways, through armed struggle, political dialogue and finally discussion with the government.
In case of all the three, Bey played a big role.
From 1995 to 2011, he was popular as Seiding-Eh.
He was the general secretary of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity. The UPDS made ceasefire pact with the Centre in 2003 and the militant outfit was dissolved in 2011.
The 45-year-old Bey joined politics in 2012 as a Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC)-backed candidate in the Karbi Anglong autonomous council election.
Bey was re-elected BJP candidate and became the council executive member. He is now the BJP candidate from Diphu Lok Sabha constituency for the elections on April 18.
“A self-ruled homeland is the legitimate right of the people of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao. Being a BJP worker, I will definitely maintain my party guidelines. But my struggle for the deprived people of the two hill districts of Assam will continue,” Bey told The Telegraph.
The ASDC, which began the autonomous state movement in the hilly region in 1986, has fielded Holiram Terang as its candidate.
Terang is known as the most popular founder ASDC leader who has a strong base among the people of the two districts.
Diphu Lok Sabha seat is in the hands of the Congress since the beginning.
Congress candidate Biren Singh Engti was elected for three times till 1990.
The struggle for a “homeland” brought ASDC leader Jayanta Rangpi to the fore as Diphu MP for three consecutive terms till 2004.
Engti was re-elected for three terms, 2004, 2009, 2014, after a parallel division in the ASDC because of ideological conflict.
Diphu constituency comprises of five Assembly seats — four in Karbi Anglong (Diphu, Baithalangsu, Bokajan, Hauraghat) and one in Dima Hasao (Haflong).
In all the four Karbi Anglong constituencies, Karbis are the majority. In Haflong, Dimasas are the majority and followed by Jeme Nagas and Hmars.
All the five Assembly seats are in the hands of the BJP right now.
“Look, politics of the two districts is statehood-centred. People here expect political initiative for a self-ruled homeland,” said Dhan Singh Tokbi, a businessman.
According to Tokbi, leadership of each of the political parties moves New Delhi once in five years and submits a memorandum demanding statehood.
In 2014, BJP chief Amit Shah addressed two rallies in Karbi Anglong where he assured the people of the two district that the two-decade -long issue would be resolved once the BJP came to power.
“The BJP came to power in New Delhi and Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. But the dreams of the people of Karbi Anglong remain unfulfilled,” said Larsika Teronpi, a student of Hauraghat College.
Diphu seat has over 7 lakh voters.