Why do local newspapers depict chaos flooding in Assam BJP?
Ask a 30-year-old person, born and brought up in Silchar, “What is devastation?” He or She will say – Urban Flooding of 2022 without the skip of a beat. This split-second response is deep-rooted in the emotions of Silcharians or rather, the residents of what is popularly known as, ‘The City of Love’. The 2022 floods struck the residents of the town and villages like a lightning piercing through their minds, taking away their prized possessions before they could even blink. It was Usain Bolt’s 100-meter dash.
As the water receded, and ministers started visiting, the people of Silchar were served another shock. The chief minister of Assam who is second to none in the state called it a “Man-made flood”. Many thought it was the beginning of “Eco-terrorism,” unleashed upon them. “Actions will be taken, stricter than strict action, something that is often reported,” CM added, hinting towards instant justice measures. Arrests were made, people were put behind bars and a few days later, the CM took ‘U-turn clarifying, there is nothing such as ‘Flood Jehad.’
The backdrop of all this chatter is the dyke at Bethukandi. According to a letter issued by the District Administration, the dyke was breached by locals in May, which has left them in a helpless condition in countering the rising water level in June. What did they do from May to June to prevent a possible disaster, is a question that the administration never answered. As reported on numerous occasions by Barak Bulletin, the fact of the matter was, residents of Mahisabeel – a settlement adjacent to the dyke, had made a path for the water to recede after the first flash floods of 2022. The water had receded everywhere but the Mahishabeel remained inundated as the sluice gate was not functional. So, the locals went on to cut a portion of the land and made a drain for the water to recede to the river. They even informed the same and the Irrigation Department, Water Resources Department were all aware of the chain of events, so was the former DC, current MP and MLA. And yet they propelled the theory of Man-Made-Flood to communalise the calamity.
Cut to 2023, on February 20, Barak Bulletin published a report on how Bethukandi Dyke is still in its vulnerable state. The report shaped discourse and the opposition join the bandwagon. Protests and sloganeering followed and Silchar MP, Dr. Rajdeep Roy swore by the millennial mantra – ‘Vulnerable is the New Strong’. He called for a press conference inviting his selected press core and gives a headline that could perpetually end his electoral-political career. He said, “The work to control flood has not progressed at the pace I wanted.” That’s not just it, as he added, “I did not choose to be the MP during the time the unprecedented flood had hit the constituency.” While each sentence he speaks makes amazing headlines, the one that needs to be archived is, “It was not a man-made flood, it was a natural calamity.” A direct contradiction to what the CM had said back then. A counter question is, “Happy realisation but when will you apologise to those you and your party accused of launching a Flood Jihad?” Alas, Barak Bulletin is not in his select press-core and neither is counter-questioning.
If the press conference on Sunday made great headlines for Newspapers on Monday, local dailies had their Tuesday morning show-stopper in Minister Pijush Hazarika. A local daily quoted the Minister considered as second most powerful, only after Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam, saying, “Rajdeep Roy never took any initiative to solve the problems related to flood. He did not send any letter to the department, or to me. Neither did he raise his concerns with me informally at the sidelines of many events where we were together.”
If you are reading the newspapers, you already have a sense that there is chaos flooding within the BJP. The MP and the Minister are not in the same page. But, wasn’t this the primary reason why Dilip Paul wasn’t given the ticket to contest despite winning Silchar twice as MLA? The MP and MLA, the state and central representatives must be on the same page to secure, “Double-Engine” growth and development. Now the MP and MLA that is, Rajdeep Roy and Dipayan Chakraborty are from the same clan. They play cricket together under flood-lights to say, “No To Drugs” with many of their teammates having their mouths filled with “Gutka/Pan/Tobacco”. Can they say “No to Drugs” without spitting?
The recent statements from the two honourable elected representatives not only shed light on the political cracks within the party, they also show a mirror to the electorates of the state as to how their trust, their biggest democratic power – the right to vote is being taken for granted. Wise man, Bob Dylan has a famous song that goes, “How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?”… He poses these amazing questions wrapped with subtle reflections of the chain of events and then sings, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” One can ask, how many floods it must take for the locals to express the “Khong” and then answer in Bob Dylan style, “The answer my friend, is sailing…”