Biren Sing Engti to place Autonomous State Bill in Lok Sabha, July 26

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in the north eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora, and the things that affect them.

As if waking from a deep slumber, Biren Sing Engti, the Member of Parliament from the hills of Assam has at last made a move on an issue he avoided throughout his political career. At that time, his party was the incumbent Congress government in power, both in Delhi and Dispur, and they would not consider an Autonomous State Bill.

This bill is best described as a political move on the statehood issue of the autonomous hill districts of Assam. It is expected to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The Assam Reorganization (Karbi Dimanchal)  Bill, 2016 (No 145 of 2016) was originally to be sent to the floor of Parliament by Mr. Engti yesterday.

Ajit Timung, President of KANCHASDCOM, told local media that a technical reason was responsible for it being postponed until July 26.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat released the list of papers under circulation, which includes the Assam Reorganization (Karbi Dimanchal) Bill, 2016. This bill is now in serial No. 2 to be introduced by Engti. The bill proposes formation of an Autonomous State within the state of Assam to be known as Karbi Dimanchal.

‘Statehood’ is a long-standing demand of the people living in Assam’s hill districts, but neither the centre nor previous state governments have taken the initiative to progress the issue.

It is as yet unknown whether the bill will serve the purposes of the people of the two autonomous districts. Only time will answer that questions. This issue remained the most dominant political concern in the hills districts for the past 25 years. Mr. Engti did not care to pay any attention to this issue when his party had control over the government. Almost all political parties in the hills, both regional and national claimed to they hard-pressed the issue for many years, but Congress in power in Delhi and Dispur ignored their requests.

It will be very interesting to see whether the now-powerless Congress MP, who faced serious criticism for opposing the issue for roughly a decade, can now carry the statehood demand forward while the BJP is in power.

Congress support in both Karbi Anglong and Dimahasao autonomous districts has greatly eroded. Many people consider this bill a political move, and part of a calculated maneuver by Engti to shore up political support for the Congress Party ahead of the coming election of both autonomous councils.

Biren Sing Engti to place Autonomous State Bill in Lok Sabha, July 26
Biren Sing Engti to place Autonomous State Bill in Lok Sabha, July 26