GUWAHATI: The BJP-led alliance government in Assam bears the stamp of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) whose anti-foreigners’ agitation from 1979-85 gave the state its pet election issue – Bangladeshis.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal is the second AASU president after Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (1985-1990 and 19962001) to become the chief minister of Assam. Mahanta’s Asom Gana Parishad, of which he was founder-president, is one of BJP’s ruling allies.
They are not the only AASU presidents who would be calling the shots for the next five years.
The oldest among them is AGP’s Brindaban Goswami, 66, who was Mahanta’s predecessor in the AASU. Both are likely to play an advisory role in the Sonowal government.
Mahanta had led the AASU during the six-year Assam Agitation. The other two former AASU presidents in Sonowal’s ministry are AGP leader Keshab Mahanta, 56, and AGP president Atul Bora, 55.
T he BJP’s 47-year-old Himanta Biswa Sarma, a key man in Sonowal’s ministry, too has an AASU link. He was a leader of the All Guwahati Students’ Union, a constituent of AASU.
Other BJP legislators with an AASU past include Atul Bora (senior to AGP president and fellow MLA of the same name), Padma Hazarika, Tapan Gogoi and Hitendranath Goswami, who was with an associate body.
T h e AG P legislators wh o p l aye d a m a j o r r o l e in the students’ union are Phani Bhushan Choudhury, Ramendra Narayan Kalita, Utpal Dutta and Pabindra Deka.
Sonowal’s cabinet also has Chandra Mohan Patowary, a for mer leader of Asom Jatiyatabadi Juba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP), which was AASU’s partner in spearheading the Assam Agitation. Patowary joined AGP from BJP in 2014.
The other former AJYCP leaders expected to play a crucial role in the alliance governments are Pradip Hazarika and Naren Sonowal, both of AGP.