Tuesday, May 28, 2024

In conversation with Padma Shree Ajoy Kumar Dutta: Renowned Social Worker and Activist

Robin Bhuyan (Editor)

Naba Kumar Sharma (Staff Reporter)

Ajoy Kumar Dutta is a well-known social worker and activist from Assam, who is associated with several non-government organizations and has been working for the welfare of the public for decades. In 2016, he was awarded with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India. Recently, Enigmatic Horizon had a conversation with him regarding his life and his work, and his thoughts regarding politics in the modern day and age. Let us take a look at the discussion:    

EH: You are not just a renowned social worker, but you have also been involved in politics. So, we would like to ask you when exactly did you really become active in the field of politics?

AKD: I have been involved with various kinds of social work from quite an early age. I have been always interested in helping people in whatever way possible, and I have been active in various kinds of social works. In addition, I have also been a rebellious person, who have stood against anything that I have perceived to be unjust. I have been politically aware ever since I was a student. Right from the 60s, I have been involved in various kinds of social works and activities directly. In 1974, I was elected in the GMC elections, and in 1978, I was elected as an MLA from East Guwahati. This is how I got involved in active politics.

EH: You are someone who has been had a first-hand experience of the political scenario not just of today, but also the political scenario of 3-4 decades ago.  What is the main difference that you see?

AKD: Today’s political scenario and the political scenario years ago are completely in contrast to one another. Earlier, most of the people who made entry into politics, had the motive to serve the public. However, nowadays, people are doing politics on issues such as caste, language, religion, etc. which is something that was hardly seen a few decades ago. I am not just talking about any single political party but everyone as a whole. At that time, the main goal of nearly every political party was serving the people to its fullest. Nepotism in politics was also very rare, and corruption was also far lesser as compared to today.

EH: Today, we can see the opposition parties hurling all kinds of accusations at the ruling party. What was the scenario in the previous eras?

AKD: Today, during political campaigns, we see opposing political parties throw all kinds of allegations towards one another, and they even call each other all kinds of names. Although political parties did criticize one another, it was mostly constructive criticism. Plus there was no enmity. When political parties criticized the government, it was mostly because they wanted to bring a change, and help the public.

EH: During your entire political career, you have met all kinds of veteran and well-known political leaders. Can you tell us some of the names of the people you had met and interacted with?

AKD: I had close connections with several political figures of the previous eras. Some of the people I had met or had connections with include VV Giri, Jayprakash Narayan, Hiteshwar Saikia, Pranab Mukherjee, Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, George Fernandes, Jyoti Basu, Golap Borbora, Indibor Kuwar, Debeswar Sarma, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury, Eknath Ranade Dottapant Thegde, Umraomal Purohit, Dulal Baruah, Renuka Devi Borkotoky, Lakshadhar Chowdhury, Dulal Baruah, etc. From Bishnuram Medhi to the current CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, I have been close with all the Chief Ministers of Assam. I was very close to Sri Chandra Sekhar, ex Prime Minister of India and M. Venkaiah Naidu, former Vice President of India. I am also quite close with Subramaniam Swamy.

EH: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring for a career in politics?

AKD: Among the people in politics, there are some who only want power, because that is their only goal.  I am not at all in support of this kind of politics. However, there is another type of politician, who only want to serve the people and the country. I believe that one needs to gain the trust of the public, if they really want to succeed in the field of politics. I believe unity, courage and sacrifice is a must. In addition, it is important that one has the mentality as well as the courage to speak out against all kinds of injustice.

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