Friday, May 24, 2024
North East

Appeal for equal focus on politics, culture from Assam’s old ‘rang manch’

Tezpur, April 14: As over a hundred people gathered in the courtyard of the century-old Baan Theatre in Tezpur in Assam on Sunday to celebrate Rongali Bihu, politics took the backseat even as the town prepares to vote for its new MP in less than a week.
As the crowd partook in the celebrations, they were also conscious that culture and politics cannot be completely disassociated though the timing of the Lok Sabha election was a matter of ‘disappointment’.
“Politics and culture are two different things, but then the political aspirations of the people must reflect its cultural aspirations also,” septuagenarian Pradip Kumar Bhattacharjya said as he enjoyed the celebrations seated in the shade of a balcony.
He maintained that a political party or ideal must represent the culture of the place it originates in, and more so in a place like Tezpur which has a unique standing and is often referred to as the ‘cultural capital’ of Assam.
The Baan Theatre, established in 1906 by Asamiya Bhasa Unnati Sadhini Sabha (ABUSS), is among the oldest, landmark of cultural importance in Tezpur.
When the old premise was devastated in a storm in 1953, the Baan Theatre was relocated to another place in the town from where it has been functioning since then. The new premise is currently being re-developed with state-of-the-art facilities by the state government.
The Bihu celebration was held at the old Baan Theatre premise, which had witnessed performances by cultural icons like Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Bishnu Prasad Rabha and Phani Sarma.
Santanu Baruah, president of ABUSS which runs the Baan Theatre (old), said, “Since Independence, politics and culture have been two sides of the same coin, especially in Assam. This is the first ‘rang manch’ (stage or theatre) in Assam and stalwarts like Padmanath Gohain Baruah, Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Purna Narayan Sinha and others were related to it.
He pointed out that just as these prominent people were icons of the cultural field, they were equally involved in the political sector also, and advocated equal participation in both spheres.
Baurah rued the fact that even today children have to be lured to schools with the promise of free food, people have to be told how to vote and free ration is availed by 80 crore people in the country.
He maintained that it indicated that the people were ‘not culturally and politically conscious’, as he urged the politicians to work for preserving and taking forward culture and literature also, along with other aspects.
Pointing to the current derelict condition of the Baan Theatre (old), the ABUSS president said, “The condition of this theatre reflects the state of politics in our country. We are still hopeful that there will be development.
Grandson of Padmanath Gohain Baruah, Sanjay, also maintained that the government should do more for the cultural sector.
“We always request the government for more focus on the cultural sector, but we haven’t seen much been done. My one appeal to the new government will be to lend a helping hand to the artists,” he said.
Also, questioning the timing of the election, he added, “Our question is why are elections always held during the Bihu? It hampers our traditional celebration of ‘Saat Bihu’ (Bihu for seven days). Those in government jobs cannot be at home. Why can’t this message from Assam go to the Central government that election should not be held here during the Saat Bihu?.
Tezpur was itself a Lok Sabha constituency till last year, when post-delimitation it was brought under the newly-carved Sonitpur seat.
Election in this constituency is scheduled to take place in the first phase on April 19.(PTI)