Asom Gana Parishad, popularly known as AGP is a recognized regional political party in Assam, India. There is a long history behind the formation of Asom Gana Parishad.
It was basically a result of a movement in Assam, which is known as the Assam Movement or Assam Agitation (Asom Andolon) which took place for six years (1979-1985).
Assam Movement was nothing but a movement against the illegal infiltration of migrants especially from Bangladesh into Assam. Because such immigration posed a threat to the internal political, social, and cultural identity of the Assamese people.
Background of Assam Movement –
Back in 1978, Hiralal Patwari, an MP in the Mangaldai constituency of Assam died. The death of the MP Hiralal Patwari made a byelection necessary to fill the seat.
But During the process of re-election, it was noticed by the election officials that there was a dramatic increase in the number of registered voters. It was the first observable hint that voting rights were given to some illegal migrants to increase the vote count for a particular political party.
This issue was immediately investigated by AASU ( All Assam Students Union ) led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and it demanded to postpone the elections till the names of illegal migrants were deleted from the electoral rolls.
This laid the foundations of the Assam Movement against the infiltration of illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
Development of the Assam Movement
The Assam movement was started by AASU and was supported by the whole state of Assam except the ruling government and a few others who wanted illegal Bangladeshis votes for their own benefits.
AASU then constituted the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) which consisted of representatives of various organizations including the Asom Sahitya Sabha, Asom Jatiyabadi Dal, Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad, the Sadau Asom Karmachari Parishad, Asom Jatiyabadi Yuva-Chatra Parishad, etc.
After that AASU and AAGSP decided to boycott the General Elections of 1979. People of Assam refused to cast votes in the election. “No deletion, no election” was the slogan of the People of Assam.
Violation in Assam Movement
On 27 November 1979, AASU-AAGSP called for the closure of all educational institutes and picketing in state and central government offices. Mass picketing was arranged in front of all polling offices where the candidate filed their nominations.
No candidates were allowed to file nomination papers in the Brahmaputra valley. On 10 December, the last date for submitting the nomination papers was declared as a statewide bandh.
But the government proclaimed a curfew at different parts of the state of Assam, including the major city of Guwahati so that the election candidate could file their nomination. The government used police force to resist the protestors.
At Barpeta, then IGP K.P.S. Gill led the police force in escorting Bagam Abida Ahmed to file nomination papers and they attacked those who were protesting against it. Khargeswar Talukdar, the 22-year-old general secretary of Barpeta AASU Unit, was beaten to death and thrown into a ditch next to the highway at Bhabanipur. Talukdar was honoured as the first Martyr of the Assam Movement.
On 7 October 1982, while leading a procession from Nagaon to hojai in support of a bandh called by the All Assam Students Union, Anil Bora Was beaten to death at Hojai by people who were against the bandh as well as the Movement.
In such tense situations, Indira Gandhi government decided to hold elections in January 1983 which result in violent protests throughout the state of Assam
Subsequently, violence spread across the Brahmaputra valley. On 18th February 1983, a mob of indigenous Assamese attacked the village of Nellie in Nagaon district and killed 2,191 suspected immigrants. Nellie massacre was the most violent incident of mass killing in India after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre
The ethnic clash that took place in Nellie was seen as a fallout of the decision to hold the controversial Assembly elections in 1983 which was boycotted by the AASU and the people of Assam.
However, despite all these protests, elections were held mainly in Bengali-majority areas of Assam and Congress came to power in 1984 under the leadership of Hiteswar Saikia.
In the middle of this, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31st October 1984 and Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India.
This was a turning point in the Assam movement. Because The newly formed Government under Rajiv Gandhi decided to call the leaders (Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Biraj Sarma, Bhrigu Phukan) of AASu and AAGSP for negotiations.
Negotiations between the government and AASU-AAGSP took place during the later parts of 1984 and the first part of 1985. After several rounds of discussion, the historic Assam Accord was signed on 15th August 1985.
Under the Assam Accord, a person who came to Assam from East Pakistan after 1951 and before 1971 was given citizenship. The Assam Accord stated in clause 6 that while giving citizenship to immigrants, constitutional protection will be given to original and indigenous citizens of Assam.
The Assam Acord put the Assam agitation to an end. After that, the Assam State Assembly was dissolved and the Congress government headed by Hiteswar Saikia was dismissed and fresh elections were announced to be held.
To contest in the election National Convention of the people of Assam was organized at Golaghat in October 1985, where AASU and AAGSP took the decision to form a regional political party in Assam. This regional party came to be known as the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
Finally, elections were held in December 1985 where Asom Gana Parishad swept the polls by winning 67 of the 126 seats and formed the Government of Assam and President of the AASU Prafulla Kumar Mahanta became the Chief Minister of Assam.
That’s how Asom Gana Parishad came into existence to protect life liberty and identity of the people of Assam from illegal infiltration of migrants. 855 Assamese people sacrifice their lives for this cause.
Election Symbol of Asom Gana Parishad and its Significance
The Election Symbol of the Asom Gana Parishad is a left-facing ‘Elephant’ which symbolizes physical strength and will-power of the people of Assam. Like an elephant, these people have great physical and mental power and can fight any battles.
They are tough, fearless, peaceful as well as full of strength. The symbol of the elephant is also symbolic of stability, devotion towards duty, and excellent foresight.
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