Posted: 31 March 2006 at 12:05am | IP Logged
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Debojit chord adds to AGP poll melody
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GUWAHATI: Hiralal Gupta has never before seen an Assamese-Bengali bonhomie sweeping Tinsukia town. But then, he had also never before thought of voting for the AGP, widely perceived as a hardcore Assamese party.
The elderly man, whose family has been running Kamakhya Hotel in this upper Assam town since 1939, thinks the state owes this paradigm shift — he even predicts that the 48,000-odd Bengali voters in this commercial town would vote for the AGP this time around — to Debojit Saha.
''My perception changed when an Assamese boy sent 5,000 SMSes to catapult the budding singer to the top of the Sa Re Ga Ma heap,'' Gupta gushes.
''Debojit has brought the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys together. The Assamese support for the Barak singer has touched every Bengali heart.''
Educated in Mumbai, Gupta quit his job there to return to Assam to shoulder his family business. The Guptas are among the first Bengali settlers in upper Assam. They streamed in when the British started Digboi oil refinery in 1901 as the first refinery of Asia and the second in the world.
With it, came the railways, and since then, Bengalis have made Tinsukia their home. Today, the oil field and refinery are the oldest operational units in the world.
''Bengalis and Assamese had never been close until Debojit brought us together,'' Gupta adds. In short, the 'Voice of India' is now the communal bridge in these parts of the country.
Bengalis earlier perceived the AGP as an Assamese party that did not support their causes, Amendra Nati Baruah, AGP's Tinsukia unit vice-president, confesses. ''But, after the Brahmaputra valley supported Debojit, they want to repay us through votes. The Debojit factor is working here.''
Edited by ramdi - 31 March 2006 at 12:13am