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Assamese cool to Bhupen?s new song

Bhupen Hazarika might address meetings as a BJP candidate for Guwahati, but it seems that people here gather not to hear the music maestro's election pitch, but to hear him sing.
PTI | By Rahul Karmakar, Guwahati
PUBLISHED ON APR 13, 2004 03:40 PM IST

Noted Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika might address meetings as a BJP candidate for Guwahati, but it seems that people here gather not to hear the music maestro's election pitch, but to hear him sing.

In fact, the day HT followed him on his campaign trail, some 400-odd people at Chhaygaon, some 20 km from here, waited an hour for him to turn up because they were apparently under the impression that Hazarika had a pre-Bihu treat for them.

Just before he addressed the Chhaygaon crowd , Hazarika met local BJP workers and asked for suggestions.

"Tell me what shall I say to these people," he asked. The BJP workers rattled off a list of problems faced by Chhaygaon residents — floods, erosion, lack of quality science education in local schools and the need to set up a police outpost to check growing incidents of dacoity in the area.

An aide noted most of the points down and Hazarika read the note once he reached the dais but he missed out on two issues local BJP workers insisted were vital for the area — science education and checking dacoity. Hazarika then went on to his pet subject of brokering peace with the Ulfa if elected.

Perhaps gauging the mood of the gathering, Hazarika broke into song.

Manuhe manuhor babe, jodiwu okonu nebhabe... (If people do not care for people) — one of his most popular songs — was like a life-saving drug for his audience and the pin-drop silence gave way to vigorous applause. Another round of applause followed as the maestro rendered the Bengali version of Manuhe...

Disappointment soon set in as the crowd realized there would be no more songs. "I had come to listen to him sing with Rongali Bihu round the corner," said Hazarika fan Basanti Kalita rather glumly.

Done with Chhaygaon, Hazarika left for Boko a few kilometres beyond. The speech was similar, the song was different. For the people of Boko, he sang Mor gaan hauk bahu aasthaheenotar biparite ek gobhir aasthar gaan (Let my song be one of deep trust against eons of mistrust). That the Congress was his target of aasthaheenota (mistrust) was not lost on the rapt listeners.

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