Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mile sur mera tumhara?

NEW DELHI: Why is everybody angry with Bhupen Hazarika? Local Assamese newspapers have been flooded with mail: angry Assamese protesting Dada's 'betrayal'. So why has Hazarika joining BJP become such an emotional issue?

Because Dada has let them down; because Dada the progressive, Dada the Marxist-humanist bard who never sang anything without social meaning has joined a 'mandir party'; because Dada, a living legend, doesn't need to join politics.

"They are not angry. They love me so much, they are anguished," says the man in the centre of the storm. "Elections have taken a backseat, the focus is on Hazarika."

But then Dada has always been an emotional issue. Sometime back, when the BJP government suddenly announced he would be nominated to the RS and then backtracked - there was spontaneous anger back home. 'The BJP has insulted Assam,' read protest placards.

Now, the big question is why: why BJP, why politics. "Because everything is changing, even Marxism. Yesterday's BJP is not today's BJP," he says.

Also, because he was won over by another fellow poet. Hazarika says he's in love with Vajpayee's humanism. "That's why Musharraf is talking to him and he has a fan following in Pakistan." So, when he said, 'Come Dada, join me', there was no turning back.

"I'm going to serve the people of Assam with this new friend," says the neo-convert. "I'm going to open doors to the Northeast."

Actually, Dada says he was truly converted when he served as chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi and interacted with some of the party's top thinkers.

For many, politics is a dirty word, especially for someone of Bhupenda's stature. He himself admits he hated MPs and MLAs and never wanted to be one - though he was an Independent MLA from 1967-1972.

"I have never wanted to be active politics. I did an MA in political science so I could become a journalist. But then, music hijacked me."

But for him, even music is an instrument for social change; his first song ran: "I shall build Assam, I shall build India."

Can there be good men in politics? "I've met one, and I am holding his hand. If the Assamese people don't send me to Delhi, I will be hurt. But my work won't end. I have found an ally who will help me carry on till the end."

A political battle seems pre-determined. Dada is a formidable opponent for anybody. Perhaps, that's why no names are forthcoming to take him on.

Source : The Times of India , March 21 , 2004

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