Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Heartspeak

By Bhupen Hazarika

Pages from the diary of veteran musician Bhupen Hazarika, after he lost the recent Lok Sabha elections...


“I was arriving in Mumbai after the elections, from Assam. As my plane flew over the blinking golden carpet of lights that illuminated the darkness of the city, I felt a sudden surge of happiness and gratitude rushing through my veins. Because the generous city of Mumbai and its people have welcomed me, accepted me, and given me my second home since so many years. I admire its people for its willingness to allow people from the rest of India to earn a living and prosper, irrespective of caste, creed or colour.

“And yet, as I landed, I felt a searing pain, the pain of loneliness, of grief and rejection, thinking of my beloved home state Assam. Assam, my birthplace, its rich red soil, blue skies, green hills, lush forests, sparkling streams, waterfalls and beautiful people, the Kopou Phool, everything that inspires my music, my lyrics and has impregnated my creativity.

“In a flash of a second, my entire life sped across in front of me — my childhood, my youth, my manhood, my love affairs, my failures, my achievements, my rewards, and lastly my rejection. I feel I was, and am, the same Bhupen Hazarika from shunya till today. A poet, a musician, a social thinker, a philosopher, a teacher and a lover of mankind. I will never change wherever I will be, because I have bsorbed the spirit of Assam.

“I want to speak my heart out to all my voters and well-wishers, and share my feelings. Why did I suddenly take a political platform to address several issues unattended to in Assam for nearly 50 years? It was an instant decision when Atal Bihari Vajpayee invited me to join the BJP, asking me to pave the way for the North-East chapter of the party. I genuinely felt that under Atalji’s leadership, liberal views and democratic vision, India had progressed. When I experienced the love and anguish, displayed by the people of Assam, when my name was dropped from the President’s nomination list of Rajya Sabha MPs, it set me thinking seriously. I realised they felt I deserved to be in the Parliament and represent them.

“I stood for elections from Guwahati, but failed to win the seat for the party. In retrospect, I see the causes of my defeat as being many, and yet, for me it was not a strong defeat, but a victory of truth. ‘Bhupenda harile (Bhupenda has lost)’, people said. I was disillusioned and stunned by my political defeat. I felt betrayed because I faced humiliation from my own people. I have devoted 65 years of my life for the cultural and social upliftment of Assam and the entire North-East, through my poetry, music, literature and cinema. With God’s blessings, the world over Assam is synonymous with my name. The three B’s there stand for Bhupen, Bihu and Brahamaputra. What I asked in return from my people was a single vote. But alas!

“Wait. Why should I feel I have lost my people’s trust just because of a political defeat? I decided to introspect. The mistake I made was that I do not think or act like a professional politician, plotting things. I do not have a coterie nor do I breed sycophants. I sprang into the political arena with no base and in complete vacuum. As it was quoted later, I was a General who went to war alone. Probably like Atalji, I too am an idealist. I come from a generation which cherishes values, non-violence, democracy, freedom of expression, right to information and religious tolerance.

“I wanted to find a solution to ongoing terrorism, make electricity available, construct flyovers and bridges, think of controlling floods, infuse civic sense in the people of Assam, encourage outside industries to set up in Assam, and create employment. For this I needed a strong political platform. So I entered the fray of Lok Sabha Elections 2004 on a BJP ticket. I didn’t win due to several reasons like factions in my party set up locally, the societal set up in the Guwahati constituency and the demographic complexities of the entire state. Also, I failed to get the minority vote, who look upon BJP as communal party. I tried bringing an AGP-BJP alliance which didn’t work out.

“Then, of course, there were my own drawbacks. I realised that all the love and admiration given to me as an artist, could not translate into votes. The voter accepts me as an artiste, but has rejected me as a potential political leader. But I am grateful to those three lakh voters who voted for me.

“I feel societal pressures, obsession with youth, a hard consumer-driven commerce-oriented wave has engulfed our country. Society has succumbed to the harsh competitive demands, and Assam is no exception. Probably the voter felt I did not fit into this New World set-up, with my artistry and advanced age. But all you people out there, don’t stop the movement for the uplifting of North-East and Assam. We, as an enlightened society, must take collective and equal responsibility, working shoulder-to-shoulder with our elected leaders to achieve success.

“And what will I do now? Aah! I am beckoned back to my world of art and culture, which I will promote eternally. Jai ai ahom. Jai Hind.”

Source : Screenindia.com , June 18 , 2004

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