CAB: Why Akhil remained as side-kick, while Conrad emerged as the hero?

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-By Adnan Ashraf

Akhil Gogoi, the images, which appear in one’s mind after hearing or even reading these two words are of a man with his hands extended in both sides- trying to say something over the microphone(s), the man who is dragged or covered by police and so on. In a simpler way, Akhil Gogoi- are the two words, which dominated Assamese news for almost a decade.

Another word, which sounds familiar to that of Gogoi is KMSS or the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, the organization, headed by Gogoi. In recent times, Gogoi has managed to form another group or more precisely ‘a group of organisations’, the ’70 organisations’; that had led multiple ‘kinds’ of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which finally lapsed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

After the Bill lapsed in the Rajya Sabha, the Assamese media, which have been covering every single debate, opposition, protest as well as discussion on the bill, have made Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma the real hero behind the lapse of the Bill at the upper house of parliament. They turned Conrad into a living legend after the ‘victory of the people of northeast’.

There is no doubt that Conrad single-handedly managed to unite all the opposition as well as the regional parties of northeast to raise voice against the contentious Bill. He went on to meet several other political parties and their leader to oppose the Bill in Rajya Sabha for the sake of the people of northeast. So did Akhil Gogoi. He along with other leaders of the 70 organisations also visited several leaders of different political parties of the nation. Besides Akhil and Conrad, the members of AASU and other senior intellectuals of the State also visited and requested leaders of various political parties to oppose the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, if tabled.

But despite the same effort, the question that arises here is, why did the media make Conrad the real hero and side-lined Akhil? He was more aggressive than any other organizations or political parties against the CAB. He even went on a hunger-strike on the day of Magh Bihu Uruka and members of his organization staged naked protest in the national capital against the Bill. A few members of Gogoi-led 70 organisations were also detained by Delhi police for their alleged plan to wave black flags at the programme of Republic Day, 2019. So why did Akhil go on the back foot?

First of all, Conrad Sangma opposed the Bill, even after being an ally of the BJP, which brought the CAB. Secondly, Sangma played the masterstroke by inviting and uniting all the regional political parties of entire northeast to raise voice against the Bill.

On the other hand, Akhil Gogoi, who has the habit of overtly glorifying anything, has only managed to unite organizations of Assam, some of which are allegedly run by merely one or two members. Gogoi, who is an expert of creating sensation as well as emotion among the common people of Assam, ended up as always playing with the emotions of people by sitting in a hunger strike and his colleagues staging naked protest against the Bill.

Conrad had hypothecated his party and alliance with BJP by opposing this Bill, but Akhil had nothing to lose in this battle against the government. When in one hand, Conrad handled the opposition with strategies, Akhil remained busy spreading emotion by his high-toned voice.

Even on the day after CAB lapsed in Rajya Sabha, Akhil was seen seeking the attention of media by arranging press conference and celebrating the development as ‘Vijay Divas’ in Guwahati.

As Arnold H Glasow had rightly said, “A good leader takes a little less than his share of the credit,” Conrad was seen terming the victory as the people of northeast’s victory; while Akhil’s first reaction to lapse of CAB in Rajya Sabha was, “Aami Jikilu (We have won).” Only Akhil can answer by “we”, what he actually meant, but for the time being, Conrad emerged as the real hero behind the two and half year long mass-protest in the region.

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