GUWAHATI, India— A student led political party that rounded Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’sparty in Assam state elections took power Tuesday with a mandate to expel an estimated 2 million MosJem immigrants.
India’s youngestever state ministry took the oath of office at Guwahati’s mammoth Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium, which was packed with about 200,000 wildly cheering supporters.
“Long live mother Assam!” the crowd shouted as the 21member state ministry took the oath of office in their native Assamese language. Police used long wooden clubs to hold back the crowd that at one point surged onto the field near the rostrum, other Hindu dominated party, ‘Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), won 64 of the 125 contested state ‘Assembly seatsinan election Dec, 16 that was bitterly contested by Gandhi’s ruling Congress (I) Party, which won only 25 places, All the new ministers are between 25 and 35 years old and several, including party leader Prafulla Mahanta, 32, are still stud cats.
The AGP also won seven out of 14 national parliament seats, while ‘Congress won only four and minor parties took the remaining three.
The voting was closely watched by national leaders because the last polls in Assam, in February 1983, Were accompanied by the worst election violence in Indian history, with an estimated 4,000 people killed, most of them Bengali speaking mainly Moslem immigrants.
Last week’s election was much ‘more peaceful, but analysts worried that voting was divided almost exclusively on racial and months ago out of an anti-immigrant campaign led by students, captured most of the support of Assam’s 8.5 million Hindus. The ‘votes of the state’s approximately 5 million Moslems were divided between the Congress and another new party, the United Minorities Front.
Mahanta has said he will insist that the national government implement an agreement to expel about 2 million Moslem immigrants who entered Assam illegally since 1971 from Bangladesh.
The agreement, reached last August 15 in talks between Gandhi and Assamese student leaders, also calls for the 10year disenfranchisement of another 200,000 Moslems who entered the state between 1966 and 1971, and the construction of a fence along the border with Bangladesh to stop further infiltration, In a speech to supporters Tuesday, Mahanta promised to protect the rights of all ‘Assamese citizens.
AGP deputy leader Bhrigu Phukan then led a two minute period of silence in memory of 606 Hindu “martyrs” who died during the 1983 election bloodbath.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 3, 1986