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Assam Polls: Tinsukia District, ULFA Faction To Slug It Out With Hindi Speakers

TINSUKIA, Mar 30: It is a tussle between the anti-talk faction of ULFA led by Paresh Barua and the Hindi speaking people in Tinsukia district of Assam on the ensuing state assembly elections.

Tinsukia district is situated in eastern Assam where it has often sent a couple of Hindi-speaking legislators to the 126-member assembly of Assam. One can possibly attribute it to the tendency of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to target those Hindi speaking people.

ULFA thinks that the language Hindi represents ‘colonial India’. It is worth noting that since the year 1999, the ULFA has killed more than 300 Hindi-speaking people to send a subversive message to the government of India. But that did not stop the voters of Tinsukia constituency from electing settlers from the Hindi heartland, the last being Rajendra Prasad Singh of the Congress.

Tinsukia and adjoining Chabua seat – ULFA military chief Paresh Barua hails from a village here – has been the rebel outfit’s stronghold for three decades now. These two have also been Congress domains.

Few days ago, the Paresh Barua led ULFA had accused Tarun Gogoi’s Congress Government for splitting the outfit (Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa is leading the pro-talks group). It can also be noted that the anti-talk faction of ULFA has threatened to upset the Congress applecart. Hindi-speakers, thus, are feeling the heat with the ULFA having already made an attempt on the life of local Congress leader Bhola Shah.

Hindi speakers started concentrating in Tinsukia, 491 km east of Guwahati, prior to 1947. Catering to locals and settlers nurtured by the tea and oil belts in eastern Assam, they developed the town into a trade hub.

Their political clout, ironically, grew after the birth of the ULFA in 1979. But Hindi speakers are numerically third with 30,000 voters. Bengalis lead the table with 44,000 voters followed by the Assamese with 34,000.

With the ULFA threat looming large, the campaigning in Tinsukia and adjoining seats has understandably been low key. But locals are determined not to let the rebels hold the upper hand. “What matters is the credibility and capability of a candidate, not what language he speaks,” said Dimbeswar Borgohain, who belongs to the Ahom community.  If Singh is seeking his third straight win from Tinsukia, Raju Sahu is eyeing his second successive victory from Chabua. In both seats, the BJP has gone for candidates belonging to the “tea tribe” that migrated from the Hindi speaking central India. The Asom Gana Parishad and the pro-Muslim All India United Democratic Front have, however, fielded indigenous candidates in a bid to remove the Congress stranglehold.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network)

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