As the dates of the general elections are announced, all political parties are toiling hard to attract the voters. Congress, which has lost its ground in Northeast states, is hoping to regain some of the seats in the region. The largest of the seven sister states, Assam, which is crucial from the perspective of Northeast politics, prepares itself to go to polls in three phases. However, it seems that bad days for the grand old party in the Northeast region are not going to end soon.
As per a New18 report, Ghanashyam Murari Srivastava, former DGP of Tripura and Assam made a startling claim that Congress came to power in 2001 with the help of banned insurgent group ULFA. Interestingly, Congress had ruled the state for 15 years during 2001 to 2016. Alleging of a understanding between United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), which later renamed as ULFA-Independent (ULFA-I), and the Grand Old party, Srivastava said, “In 2001, ULFA was directly involved in Assam’s Assembly elections. The insurgent group helped Congress win the elections in Assam in exchange for a huge amount of money.”
“We intercepted a message of ULFA commander in chief Paresh Baruah, wherein he passed an order to their comrades to attack the candidates of Assam Gana Parishad (AGP). In the same message, he ordered the men to kill the candidates of another political party as well,” said the former top cop.
Prior to 2001, there was an AGP-BJP coalition government in Assam under CM Prafulla Mahanta. As the assembly elections were round the corner, a large number of incumbent leaders of AGP-BJP government were attacked and hacked to death by the shady militant organisation ULFA. Srivastava further claimed that before the 2001 elections, Baruah passed a strict order to his men to hold negotiations with the Congress, which was then in Opposition. “In the 2001 Assembly elections, the ULFA cadres were deployed in the polling centers to force people to vote in favour of Congress,” Srivastava added. Afterwards, a series of massacre followed in the state of Assam.
On May 13, 2001, in a pre-planned way, Jayanta Dutta, a local BJP candidate and the then general secretary of the party’s Assam unit, along with his campaign managers Biren Phukan and Prasanta Gogoi were shot by ULFA militants. The trio was rushed to the Assam Medical College & Hospital, but were declared “brought dead”. Seven others, three police guards and four bystanders, sustained bullet wounds.
Less than half an hour later, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) office, about 2 km away, came under attack from the rebels. An AGP worker and a police constable were killed. However, the assailants walk away unchallenged.
Few days back, on April 29, rebels launched a grenade attack on Kumar Deepak Das, AGP candidate for the Barpeta seat in western Assam, as he was coming down from the dais after addressing an election meeting. Das sustained serious injuries. The previous day an AGP campaign office in Guwahati had been attacked. One party worker died and 14 others were hurt.
The whole series of attacks were acts of vengeance, as the outlawed ULFA, an avowed non-believer in the Indian Constitution and polls, was dealt with force by the then central government under PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In September 1997, less than a year after assuming the office, the incumbent CM Mahanta ordered to take a firm stance against the rebels. A combined operation of the police, paramilitary and the army, which followed, killed more than 500 ULFA activists and 2,700 were forced to surrender.
The assembly election of 2001 took place under heavy security. To conduct the elections without any threat, a total of 227 paramilitary companies (a company comprise about 100 men) and 140 army columns (80-100 soldiers per column) were deployed. An additional 25 paramilitary companies were announced to be moving in.
But the ‘holy’ nexus of ULFA and Congress worked and they were able to win a total of 71 seats and Tarun Gogoi became the next CM. And afterwards, Gogoi started putting his men in key administrative positions in the state. He reshuffled 29 senior IPS officers and transferred 18 senior IAS officers in a single day. Srivastava is an IPS of Assam and Meghalaya cadre of 1972 batch, and was appointed as DGP of Assam by Gogoi during his second term.
With 2019 Lok Sabha elections inching closer, Srivastava’s claims are going to exacerbate the conditions for the Congress. The former DGP went on to add, “The Baruah-led ULFA (I) does not have the power to influence the upcoming general elections. The group can at best lead to an ‘incident’ in two to three districts of upper Assam only.” However, the Congress leaders, who claim to be liberal and saviour of democracy, are nothing but goons in disguise.