Political slugfest in Assam continues amid Bihu festivities

  • Rahul Karmakar (HT Editorial, Kolkata), Hindustan Times, Guwahati
  • Updated: Apr 15, 2016 01:35 IST
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine (Kate), Duchess of Cambridge watch traditional Jhoomar dance as chief minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi welcomes the royal couple on their 3 day trip to Kaziranga National Park in Assam. (PTI)

On Sunday, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi went shopping at the weekly Beltola Bazaar in Guwahati and picked up seasonal vegetables for Bohag or Rongali Bihu festivities set to begin from mid-April.

A day after he was pulled up for election code violation on Monday, Gogoi said “all is well” as he extended wishes for the 30-day festival. His rivals, however, were quick to attack him.

“This will certainly be his last Bihu as chief minister,” former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said. Mahanta, founder-president of the Asom Gana Parishad, is seeking a re-election from Barhampur assembly constituency.

A spokesperson for Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal said he hoped Gogoi and other Congress leaders enjoy the festival while they are still “technically in power”.

Hagrama Mohilary, president of BJP ally Bodoland People’s Front, said the post-poll confidence of the alliance will make this Boisagu — the Bodo tribal variant of Bihu — special.

Mahanta said Bihu would have lost its sheen had the elections not been scheduled in the first half of April. “Party workers and supporters can now participate without being weighed down by the responsibility of campaigning,” he said.

For artisans and weavers though, the polls were like “Bihu before Bihu”.

“Our sales increased after elections were announced as parties bought jaapi (traditional straw-bamboo hats for felicitating guests) and gamosa (cotton scarf-towel with red motifs) in bulk. We hope Bihu proves to be just as good,” Bipin Baishya, a jaapi-gamosa dealer, said.

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