Saturday, July 13, 2024

Meddlesome Assam CM


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It is out of character for the Chief Minister of a state to interfere in the voting pattern of people in another state. Chief Ministers usually maintain a certain decorum which is that of mutual respect towards one another since all of them enjoy equal status irrespective of the size of the state or population. But the Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma continues to revel in the idea that it is his prerogative to question the voting pattern of people in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram and to attribute it to the influence of a ‘certain religion.’ The above four states bucked the trend. In Manipur, a BJP-ruled state, the BJP could not return even one MP out of two. Both seats went to the Congress. Although the Assam CM did not spell out the name of the religion it is obvious that he was hinting at Christian missionaries preaching against the BJP and influencing people to vote against it. This allegation assumes that the hill tribals are easily swayed by religion and do not have a mind of their own in terms of who they choose to vote for.
In Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma has launched a movement against educational institutions run by Christian missionaries and instructed them to remove the statue of Christ put up in the school premises. This even while Biswa Sarma has himself been revoltingly spreading the Hindutva agenda in his home state and during his campaigns elsewhere in the country. He reviled at Muslims as being illegal migrants out to dispossess the Hindus in his state of Assam. In terms of the coarse language he uses to demonise Muslims, Biswa Sarma is equal only to his boss -Narendra Modi. In May 2016, after the Assam Assembly elections the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) was formed by the BJP. It included all the 8 north-eastern states since by then all the states were ruled by the BJP or its allies. Himanta Biswa Sarma was the convenor of the NEDA. The sole purpose of the NEDA was to give shape to Narendra Modi’s slogan of, “Congress mukt Bharat” (an India divested of the Congress Party). Himanta’s antipathy towards the Congress – a party where he cut his political teeth was evident from his public speeches where he regularly lambasts the Nehru-Gandhi family and Rahul Gandhi in particular. When Rahul Gandhi visited Assam during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in January 2024 Biswa Sarma did his best to make it difficult for him to move across the state.
It does not take much to figure out why the Assam CM is despondent after securing only 16 of the 25 seats in the 8 North Eastern states. If he had got as many seats as in 2019 or even more, his clout in the BJP fraternity would have risen and that would have added to his bargaining power. He had to find an alibi for the poor performance of the BJP and religion became an easy scapegoat. This sort of comment will further alienate the BJP in the region.

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