Unrest in Assam over PMO rejection of Borah

Vol 18, PW 23 (16 Jul 15) People & Policy

Unrest has broken out in Assam over the government's decision to reject Rupshikha Borah for the role of Oil India chairman.

Since July 1 local activist group Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and other organisations have been staging noisy protests outside Oil India's Duliajan headquarters in Assam. Yet five days later on July 6 the PESB boldly went ahead and advertised the Oil India chairman vacancy, asking for CVs by August 26.

An Oil India source says many company employees are stranded at the office or at home because of blockades preventing travel. "Local Assamese are showing their resentment," he says.

"They are blocking roads and stopping cars." Another senior Oil India source confirmed on July 10 that the shutdowns had not abated. Luckily production or drilling work has not been disrupted: Oil India assets in Assam and the northeast are guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) guards.

Assam's ruling Congress party is capitalising on the fracas to score points against Modi's BJP, by condemning its perceived insult against a woman, that too of Assamese origin. Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi wrote to Modi on June 30 to intervene on behalf of Borah, wife of former Oil India chairman NM Borah.

Analysts say if the BJP fails to act quickly to control the fallout of the PMO's decision it could scuttle its own chances in crucial state elections next year (2016).