Ahom ruler cited in attack on BJP
Senior Congress leader Debabrata Saikia on Tuesday invoked Sukapha, the first Ahom ruler considered the architect of greater Assam, to “expose” the BJP’s “divisive” politics to divert attention from burning issues ahead of next year’s Assembly polls.
Chaolung Sukapha was the founder of the Ahom dynasty that ruled Assam for about 600 years. He entered Assam through Burma (Myanmar). He is considered the architect of greater Assam or Bor Asom created through his policy of assimilation of various tribes and communities through unity and amity. The Assam government observes Asom Divas on December 2 every year to commemorate Sukapha and his reign.
The trigger for Saikia’s criticism was the “communal and divisive” speech delivered by senior BJP leader and cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the state executive of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha at Sivasagar on Sunday. Sarma had said that a specific civilisation would now flourish and another civilisation would be wiped out in Assam, according to Saikia, an Ahom.
A video of the speech uploaded on social media shows Sarma claiming that polls in the state would be a fight between two civilisations, one that will abide by the ideals of Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Xankardeb and the other which will try to encroach his birthplace and use false names to indulge in “love jihad”. He also accused the Opposition Congress of surrendering before the AIUDF to check the BJP in the Assembly polls. The Congress and the AIUDF are working on a pre-poll alliance.
Sarma has not specified who represents the civilisation that would encroach Xankardeb’s birthplace but he was alluding to the migrant Muslim population by referring to “love jihad” and the AIUDF, which the BJP claims espouses the cause of illegal migrants, a highly emotive issue in the state.
Saikia said it was reprehensible that a message loaded with incitement and divisiveness should have been issued by Sarma from Sivasagar, which was the base of Sukapha, who came as a migrant but stayed on to lay the foundation of a composite greater Assam.
He described as an “insult” to the secular traditions of Sukapha and the Tai Ahom community by the attempt to “create” communal conflict at an event where the BJP leaders and workers had donned Ahom headgear and carried Ahom swords, among others.
The Ahoms are an influential community with significant presence in Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Golaghat, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts. He said the Ahom dynasty had united various tribes and ethnic communities to build a greater Assam where everyone lived with honour and individuals secured jobs and rewards on the basis of merit, irrespective of caste or creed.
As a result, at different times during the reign of the Ahom dynasty the likes of Ismail Siddique alias Bagh Hazarika fought shoulder to shoulder with Lachit Borphukon and others when armies of Turbak or the Mughal army, led by Rajput king Man Singh, attacked Assam.
“The Battle of Saraighat was not a battle based on religion but a battle between invaders and the people of Assam,” Saikia said, advising Sarma to read the history of Assam “more thoroughly” and refrain from “distorting” historical facts.
“The Ahom Swargadeos (rulers) displayed equal magnanimity in donating land to Azan Pir for propagating Sufi philosophy and donating land for namghars (community prayer halls), xatras (Vaishnavite monasteries), temples, etc, with the goal of creating a secular Assamese society,” Saikia said.
The leader of the Opposition in the Assembly said such speeches are an attempt to divert attention from public grievances regarding important issues such as unemployment, poverty, settlement of the illegal migrants, revival of the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills, boosting of the agriculture sector and improvement of the work culture. Saikia urged the youths of Assam not to fall into the “trap of bigotry laid down by the BJP” and consequently make “wrong choices”.
He also pointed out that at various times other BJP leaders such as Shiladitya Dev, Ramakanta Deuri and Mrinal Saikia had been guilty of utterances which were calculated to divide society along sectarian lines. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s silence implied tacit approval of such nefarious tactics, Saikia said.
BJP chief spokesperson Rupam Goswami told The Telegraph that the Congress sees communalism in everything. “Our minister (Sarma) spoke about civilisation, not communalism. It has got nothing to do with religion while it is the Congress which believes in the politics of vote bank and appeasement,” Goswami said.