Two intellectual groups spar over ‘fascist, communal’ BJP in Assam

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah
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The rift is out in the open in Assam. It is not just the political parties who are fighting a fierce battle to win elections in the poll bound state.

The Assam Assembly Elections 2016 is witnessing a major war of words between two groups of intellectuals.
At the time of filing this report, the first phase of polling was underway on April 4 (Monday) in the state. The second and final phase of polling is scheduled on April 11.

Assam Assembly elections

A group of intellectuals in the state--led by prominent writer and former Gauhati University professor Hiren Gohain--has asked the people of Assam not to vote for the BJP.

According to this group, which consists of around 43 well-known academic voices of the state, BJP is a "fascist and communal" party.

"The BJP has been trying to negate real patriotism with insane patriotism. The nation will gradually be in the grip of darkness if this party continues to remain in power," the group said.

The group members include former college principals Udayaditya Bharali, Dinesh Baishya, noted poets Nilamoni Phukan and Nalinidhar Bhattacharyya, authors Nirupama Bargohain and Anima Guha and cultural activist Loknath Goswami, among others.

Tarun Gogoi

Such an "appeal" on the part of the intellectuals has snowballed into a major controversy.

One more group of intellectuals has strongly criticised the former group for taking an "anti-BJP" stand.

A second set of intellectuals--led by former Gauhati University vice-chancellor Nirmal Kumar Choudhury and former Assam DGP Nishinath Changkakoti-has strongly condemned the stand taken by Gohain and his supporters.
Choudhury called such an appeal by the "anti-BJP" lobby as "anti-democractic".

"Asking people not to vote for a particular party is in itself a threat to democracy. Nobody has the right to issue a fatwa to the people on exercising their democratic rights. They are trying to mislead the voters on the eve of polling day," a statement issued by the second group said.

The second group also asked the voters to come out in large numbers to cast their votes without any fear or under any influence.

Clarifying that he and his friends are not favouring any political party or pro-Congress, Gohain said there is nothing wrong in their anti-BJP stand for greater interest of Assamese society.

While BJP members have strongly criticised Gohain and his group members, Congress on the other hand has welcomed the call of the intellectuals.

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