GUWAHATI: The Congress in Assam launched its first election video on Monday by zooming in on the state’s ancient Bhaona tradition, the Vaishnavite spiritual drama culture popularized by Saint Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciples in the 16-17th centuries. The party has vowed to protect Assamese identity to counter the BJP’s controversial citizenship document, NRC, and the new law, Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Bhaona, a popular tradition in chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s constituency Majuli, is known across the globe.
Within a few hours of the release of the video by senior leaders of the party in their social media handles, the video received 1 million views on Facebook and Twitter. The advertisement is being aired across platforms and was parallelly released on social media.
“The video advertisement sounds like the voice of the people. Across villages, Bhaona is staged on cultural occasions with pomp and gaiety. The song, played in the background, is like a call to the people to raise their voice and that they had nothing to fear because the party is with them. The grassroots people, who are constantly living in fear of losing their identity because of NRC and CAA, can draw some comfort from the party’s assurance,” said Bobbeeta Sharma, chairperson of the media department of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC). She is a well-known television and film personality in Assam. Just as the Bhaonas glorify the victory of Ram or Krishna over evil, the song says the Congress will defeat the evil this election, Sharma added.
Khol and taal in hand, the young artists in the video perform the traditional dance to the tune of Sattriya music. The troupe is seen pirouting down the sattras in pristine white singing their concern about the disintegration of their society if their identity is not preserved. In the first line, an elderly man asks a mask artist, “Will the annual Bhaona be conducted this time?” The young artist replies, “I have no idea what is going to happen, our society and culture may disappear!”
The song goes on, “Let conches blow, let the taal play… by rejecting CAA, Congress will give courage… like a brave warrior, Congress will defeat the evil forces… Congress is coming with a guarantee.”
The Congress has made five promises to the grassroots people, which they are calling ‘guarantee’. If voted to power, the grand old party has pledged to scrap the controversial CAA and NRC; hike the wages of tea garden workers to Rs 365 per day; generate five lakh government jobs; provide free electricity up to 200 units per household and provide Rs 2,000 monthly income support to housewives. Of these, the guarantee given to tea workers would be fulfilled within 30 days of the Congress assuming office.
“The Congress will emerge victorious because we are coming with guarantees this election. We represent the collective conscience of the people, who want peace and harmony,” said the spokesperson.