Dipankar Das: Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Anjan Dutta passed away today morning at the AIIMS hospital in Delhi following cardiac failure. He was one of the prominent Koch Rajbanshi political leaders of his time.
When the Assam State Transport Corporation was lurking in the darkness, debt ridden and counting its days, Anjan Dutta, took charge as the Transport Minister in 2001, what happened next in years to come should have made its way into history books, lest everything was so simple. He made the Department rise back like a Phoenix.
It was his extra efforts that Assam say the hosting of the 33rd National Games at Guwahati. The story of how he managed the interim amount to be paid to the Indian Olympic Association, from his personal savings, speaks highly about the determination he had.
As a Koch Rajbanshi, he had in him the traits, which other leading Koch Rajbonhshis, like Sjt. Sarat Chandra Sinha, Sjt. Bishnu Ram Medhi share: that purpose is above any thing else.
He has served as MLA from the Amguri Constituency three times. He was the Vice President of Assam Olympic Association, President of Sivsagar District Sports Association besides holding other important posts. He was appointed APCC President on 13 December, 2014 and had been holding the post ever since.
Anjan Dutta represented the voice of the Koch Rajbanshi community in the politics of Assam and he always carried the simplicity of his community along with him. Kamaapur.com pays heartfelt tribute to a Proud Koch-Rajbongshi: Son of Soil, Sjt. Anjan Dutta.
May his soul rest in peace.
Biswajit Ray, Ex. President of AKRSU with Rahul Gandhi
Anuj Choudhury: Since the 1990’s, there have been mushrooming of Koch organizations in the state of Assam, voicing the demands of the general Koch population. The two major demands being the demand for a separate state Kamatapur and include the community as ‘scheduling tribe’ (ST). Political parties like AGP, Congress and BJP has also taken up the ST issue at various points of time as a mobilization tool to gain vote banks in various state elections. However it has seen that various Koch organizations which have been leading the social movement of the Koches for a long time have not been able to convert the social issue into a political issue or mobilize the community on political lines. In short, the community even after having a significant numerical strength in Assam lacks a political party of its own and has mainly become a victim of false promises of other parties over the years.
There are many examples in Assam itself where we have observed that the second stage of a social movement is the formation of a political force. In Assam, we saw how All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) gave birth to Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) to carry forward its demands or how cadets of Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) gave rise to Bodo Peoples’ Party (BPF) to voice its demands politically. In North Bengal, we have seen how the Kshatriya Sammittee tactfully transformed from a social organization into a political organization and its members contested in the general elections after coming of the Government of India Act, 1935, when for the first time reservation for the ‘depressed class’ was allotted. Participation of Kshatriya Sammittee in the general election made headway in British India. This, trend of political mobilization was later continued by Kamatapur Peoples’ Party which can be seen even today in North Bengal.
Unlike North Bengal, in Assam the Koches have not been yet able to turn themselves from a social force to a political force. However, recently for the first time we saw the Koch political party, Kamatapur Progressive Party (KPP), which is founded by Atul Roy, former president Kamatapur Peoples’ Party of North Bengal Kamatapur Peoples’ Party(KPP) having being established in Assam under the leadership of Uttam Kumar Ray just before the 2016 Assam Elections. But due to its immaturity in Assam politics it failed to play an active role in the recent elections. Also, interestingly in the recent elections we saw prominent Koch leaders like Biswajit Ray (ex-President of AKRSU) contesting elections on a Congress ticket, All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) Barpeta unit supporting Pabindra Deka, A non Koch Candidate, Chilaray Sena supporting Aboro Suraksha Mancha candidates etc. Thus, we have seen that when it comes to political mobilization the community gets divided and this division is created by the community leaders themselves having no common vision for the community and due to lack of unity. This is the main reason why till today the fundamental demands of the Koches is still hanging and the issues faced by the Koches is just seen as a mobilization tool by other political parties. Until and unless various Koch organizations don’t work together to achieve common politically goals, ST and Kamatapur will always remain a distant dream.
(The writer is associate editor at Kamatapur.com)