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Politics of River Island in Asom

Written by: Staff

Majuli, Asom, Mar 26 (UNI) With the Assembly elections fast approaching, politics has slowly taken over the sleepy little island of Majuli--the world's biggest river island and an UNESCO world heritage site.

This monastic island, which has nearly 25 Xatras or Monasteries living almost in a purist form of agrarian's life, has witnessed frantic activities and heated words, even as the word 'development' holds no meaning.

In the island, where the only mode of transport from the mainland is a tricky half hour long boat journey, covering a distance of hardly ten km through river Brahmaputra, the politicians are flocking to canvass among the simple Mishing people.

The people of the island are still living in a primitive world.

The predominant mode of transport is cycle, and if one misses the two ferries that leave the island for the mainland in the morning hours, one is stuck and will have to wait till the next day.

The monasteries give the island a unique ambience and hence it has been recognised as the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. However, a murky nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and contractors, have tried to make money out of Majuli in the name of development.

Every year, the floods leave a trail of devastation with two-third of the island going under water and every year, hundreds of crores of rupees are siphoned off in the name of the flood management, which explains in the acrimonious struggle for this constituencies.

The AGP has given ticket to Mr Padmadhar Pegu, instead of a strong contender Mr Pademshwar Doley, the former MLA.

This has sparked huge dissension in the party with Mr Doley, contesting as an Independent candidate, making sure that the seat goes once again to Congress' Mr Rajiv Lochan Pegu, who won the seat with just over 2000 votes.

The political struggle has relegated any development activities on the island-- the symbol of Assamese identity with culture and religion coming together --to the backdrop.


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