from the Government ‘Within a Month’ –
Or Cooperate with UPDS Peace Process!
These days, the Karbi Anglong District Congress (I) is in a propaganda overdrive, telling people that –
…1. UPDS is demanding “More Power” and not Autonomous State –
2. No support to UPDS if it is retracting from ‘Autonomous State’ – and
3. Congress alone can bring Autonomous State under Article-244 (A), hence support the Congress (I)
Apparently, the DCC (I) claims seem attractive. But the truth is – that in the last forty years, the DCC (I) has neither been able to hold an “Official Talk” with the government on the Autonomous State issue nor could it bring any enhanced power for the people. It is therefore high time that the Congress propaganda is assessed one by one –
The first question that requires a serious thought is –
It would indeed have been credible if Mr. Bhubaneswar Kalita, the APCC (I) president and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the AICC (I) president had similarly said what the DCC (I) leaders are claiming. It is clear that only the DCC (I) leaders of Karbi Anglong are crying hoarse, but people who matter most in the national leadership have never ever uttered a word even remotely favoring an Autonomous State. This is on record that Mr. Biren Singh Engti’s over forty-year leadership of Karbi Anglong DCC (I) including a 25-year stint as MP had failed to compel his state and central party leadership to speak even once on Autonomous State; it is even more remote that there will ever be a government assurance on the matter. Now, how many more years are the people of Karbi Anglong supposed to wait on Mr. Engti? Will the patient wait of all these years not come to a naught if Mr. Engti finally declares that he’s quitting politics due old age?
The second question is – Has the UPDS really not demanded Autonomous State?
Every student aspires to score 100% marks in every examination. But if the examiner is content to give below that despite the best efforts of the student, what else could he do? Should the student refuse to accept the marks? The same applies to a farmer as well. He aspires to reap hundred bagfuls of paddy, but despite his efforts if he manages just below that, should he discard his harvest to the rats? Even a fool would not let this happen. Instead, he would carry home the best harvest that was possible and feed his children and try to make merry with his friends and acquaintances. The UPDS has tried to do similarly. The original demand was for a full-fledged statehood, an Autonomous State under Article-244 (A) at the least. Even the ‘Group of Minister’ chairman, Mr. Bhumidhar Burman, while talking to NE-TV on 4th October 2010 in a primetime evening broadcast on the UPDS talks had clearly said that – “What UPDS demanded was for a state within a state, which the government has not accepted and offered an alternative so that their genuine demands can be fulfilled.” Mr. Khorsing Engti, who is also a member of the GoM, has already put his signature supporting the government position. Since 2002, the UPDS has consistently struggled for eight years with all its might. But the party and the government to which Mr. Biren Singh Engti is associated with refused to accede to the demand. UPDS had approached him on several occasions for his cooperation to prevail upon his party leaders in the overall interest of the people, but he did not respond. Who is to blame? It is the UPDS or the Congress and its governments? In 1995, the ASDC did sign a MoU to enhance the autonomy in whatever extent it could; UPDS too is compelled to do likewise so that people of Karbi Anglong may get enhanced autonomy. Because UPDS does not believe in struggle for the sake of struggle, indulging in tax collection, violent confrontation with government forces and harassing innocent people endlessly and thereby forfeit any possibilities of solution, even if partial. Today, people from all walks of life aspire for peace and UPDS thinks it appropriate to respect this overwhelming sentiment.
When Autonomous State of Meghalaya was created, it was given only 61 departments out of 66 from the State List (7th Schedule). When the MoU of 1995 was signed, 30 departments were given to Karbi Anglong. And now, UPDS is making efforts to get the remaining 36 departments. But if anything remained unfulfilled, other organizations are welcome to pursue it. The Autonomous State of our dream shall have to be built in this process – bit by bit. Because, contradicting forces and processes have all but jeopardized our chances to achieve reconciliation and Autonomous State at one attempt. Mere ‘politicking’ has only created more divisions within – whether it be KSA, KCS, political or even armed organizations. The PAPA initiative is our answer to achieve the reconciliation we all aspire, or what else is the alternative where all can unite? Let our efforts not go waste and this is why we humbly appeal to all for cooperation to ensure the peace process between the UPDS and the government. The historic 22nd April 2007 Inglongcherop (Diphu) ‘consultative’ is our guide where it was overwhelmingly resolved to desist from a return to the jungle and continue with the peace process.
In the last 7-8 years, the majority of people have seen supporting this view. Beca…use, the majority of people have voted the Congress to power with the fond hope that the party can indeed deliver this time. Consider this scenario – when the Prime Minister himself is an MP from Assam, it is reasonable to believe that he will listen to the Assam Chief Minister, Mr. Tarun Gogoi, who in turn is a good friend of Mr. Biren Singh Engti. Not only this – Mr. Engti has been in the company of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi whose widow Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the present president of the AICC (I). And despite the best advantages that Mr. Engti enjoys now, if he fails to get an Autonomous State, he never will. No wonder that people in their majority made a beeline to the Congress, including some top ASDC leaders, to strengthen the party for the cause. But, the wait has become too long and meaningless. Because it was the Congress government that forced UPDS to scale down its demand for Autonomous State. Similar is the case with the DHD. Even the KLNLF is being compelled to do so. But Mr. Biren Singh Engti-MP, Mr. Khorsing Engti-HAD Minister or Mr. Joyram Engleng-CEM – none of them had protested against the government’s pressure tactics. Nor do they have the courage to resign from the party, which is forcing a solution below Article-244 (A). The KAANCHASDCOM has been working only for the Congress since the last twenty-four years, but the organization could do little to elicit from the party any clear-cut statement on the Autonomous State issue. The DCC (I) leadership is treating the KLNLF in the same way. Far from initiating negotiation for ‘Hemprek Kangthim’, the DCC (I) has even failed to resolve issues of ‘designated camp’ and ‘allowances’ to cadres. Now, time is running out for Mr. Biren Singh Engti as his friend Mr. Tarun Gogoi’s term is nearly coming to an end. And there is no certainty that Congress will come back to power the next time and that Mr. Tarun Gogoi will be the Chief Minister again. Now, how can UPDS be expected to discard the peace process and forfeit a settlement basing on flimsy vote-catching gimmick that ‘Congress will bring Autonomous State’?
However, let’s try to work out a solution in the interest of the people of Karbi Anglong. UPDS, therefore, wishes to given the DCC (I) leaders, especially Mr. Biren Singh Engti-MP, a one-month time – from 12th October 2010 to 12th November 2010. This, we feel, is necessary to remove any doubt in public minds that had they been given time, Autonomous State and Article-244 (A) could have been implemented. Because, we are told that Mr. Engti is close to UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, that he can convince Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and that Chief Minister Mr. Tarun Gogoi is his friend. If at all ‘Congress is bringing Autonomous State’ and ‘UPDS should not sign the agreement’ – we would like to call upon Mr. Engti to ensure within a month ‘an official declaration by both the State and Union governments that Autonomous State under Article-244 (A) shall be implemented.’ If this is acted upon accordingly, UPDS commits to refrain from signing the agreement now and wait for a settlement that the Congress will sign. And if not, the DCC (I) leadership should have no reasons to jeopardize the UPDS peace process. And if they continue to interfere, it will be considered as a mere ‘political trickery’ aimed to derail the peace process. In order to avoid future controversy, they should also avoid interrupting the peace process and instead extend full cooperation to enhance the chances of upgrading the autonomy.
On behalf of the
United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity
Central Liaison Office, Diphu,