The tripartite Assam Accord signed between the Indian government, the State Government of Assam and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) in 1985 marks a watershed moment in Assam’s socio-political history. The Accord ushered in a new era of competitive politics. Assam has been mostly under Congress rule with the exception of the time of the Janata Government led by Golap Borbora (1978-79). Post 1985, the State witnessed the formation of new political parties as well as the fragmentation of the electorate.
Two important developments took place in Assam after 1985; firstly, there was a multiplication of the number of political parties and secondly, a politicization of multiple ethnic groups which gave a further push to the demand of ethnic homelands. Sandhya Goswami’s Assam Politics in Post-Congress Era: 1985 and Beyond is a detailed study of the change that took place in Assam post 1985.
The book starts with a detailed account of historical issues like illegal immigration initiated by a colonial power and how it continues to shape the State’s politics. Migration of farmers from erstwhile East Bengal was both a colonial project and a respite for farmers from an exploitative Permanent Settlement of Bengal to a relaxed Ryotwari system prevalent in Assam. However, Partition and Independence did not end this human movement and it puts an extra pressure on land. The author reiterates that land is a crucial component of the identity of a largely agrarian community and identity crisis of the people of Assam is due to this scarcity of land.