A/ We are carrying out a very sustained campaign. It is a brass-tacks level, no-frills, business-like campaign. We started it on February 12, calling it ‘Axom Basaon Ahok’ (Let us save Assam). The campaign has struck a chord with the people and fanned out to different corners of the state. We are getting a huge response. People have had enough of the BJP, which has been attacking the ethos of Assamese pride.
Q/ All parties are talking about Assamese pride. Which one is the right version?
A/ Axomiyatva, or Assamese identity, is fundamentally different from the BJP’s Hindutva. Axomiyatva is very inclusive, very liberal. It provides space to every community, caste and religion. Assamese identity was painstakingly stitched together by Chaolung Sukaphaa, who came to Assam in 1228. Sukaphaa was the founder of the Ahom kingdom. Before his arrival, there were only ethnic groups in Assam. He painstakingly built the liberal Assamese identity by including every community and ethnic group. He never resorted to hatred, warmongering or force. It was an assimilation process that took a long time.
Q/ The BJP also talks about an inclusive Hindu sentiment.
A/ Assamese reformer Sankardev gave us a refined Hinduism, unlike the one presented to us by the RSS, which is based on Manu Samhita. Sankardev was very liberal. He had Muslims as his disciples and talked about educating women. He said the downtrodden can be uplifted through education.
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