Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Assam's Minority District Votes, Will CM's Islamophobic Remarks Cost Him Seats?

In Assam, Muslims account for 34.22% of the total population, totaling 1.07 crore individuals.
Amit Shah and Himanta Biswa Sarma at a roadshow in Silchar
Amit Shah and Himanta Biswa Sarma at a roadshow in SilcharX

New Delhi - In the second phase of the Lok Sabha Election, polling took place in five districts of Assam, including the Barak Valley region.

Within this region, the Karimganj Lok Sabha constituency covers two districts, Karimganj and Hailakandi, which are predominantly Bengali-speaking. According to the 2011 Census, the Muslim population in Karimganj and Hailakandi was recorded at 56.36% and 60.31%, respectively.

According to the 2011 census, Hindus constitute the majority in the state of Assam, accounting for 61.47% of the population. Hinduism is the predominant religion in 18 out of the 27 districts in Assam.

The Muslim population in Assam totals 1.07 crore, representing 34.22% of the total population of 3.12 crore.

Despite this, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma continued to talk about the minority population, targeting stereotypes and doubting their indigenous identity, a longstanding source of controversy in the state.

During the elections, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made a notable turnaround. His frequent visits to the constituency, occurring three times within a span of 20 days, clearly highlighted the party's concentrated endeavors to build a diverse voter base.

Interestingly, at Lok Sabha election rallies in Karimganj, CM Sarma avoids discussing the NRC, a factor that traditionally influences Assam's support for the BJP.

The Mooknayak spoke with several voters from Karimganj district to gauge their views on the state of affairs and the election outcome.

Atikul Bari emphasized that the anti-minority rhetoric from the CM and his party in recent years has had a significant impact on the people in these districts.

"People in the polling stations with a majority of minority populations are voting against the BJP," alleged Sufian Ahmed.

"However," he continued, "10-15% of votes in the region are still going to the BJP, primarily due to personal benefits."

According to Ahmed, Patharkandi and Ratabari constituencies might still see a significant percentage of votes in favor of the incumbent party.

Sishir Dey noted that this time around, urban constituencies lack enthusiasm for voting, primarily favoring the BJP.

"It's because the incumbent MP (Kripanath Mallah) hasn't done any work," commented Dey.

"In rural areas, voters seem excited to support the Congress candidate (Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury) to win this election."

Dey emphasized that the voters will respond to the anti-minority comments at the ballot box.

The region also hosts a significant population of migrant workers, many of whom intended to participate in the elections by returning to their villages and towns to cast their votes. However, numerous individuals found themselves stranded en route as trains were either cancelled or rescheduled last evening.

According to a notice released by Sabyasachi De, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Northeastern Frontier Railway, a goods train's engine derailed between the Jatinga Lampur and New Harangajao stations within the state's Lumding division.

As a result, seven trains were prematurely terminated before reaching their scheduled destinations, while the schedules of three other trains were adjusted.

The exact number of individuals who will miss out on voting, and whether this will influence the election results, remains undetermined.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP candidate secured victory in the Karimganj constituency with a vote share of 44.62%.

The AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) secured the second position with 41% of the votes. Meanwhile, the Congress trailed behind with just 11.36% of the votes.

Contrastingly, in the 2014 elections, the AIUDF emerged victorious with a vote share of 40.91%.

The BJP trailed behind with 29.4% of the votes, while the Congress secured 25.54% of the votes.

This indicates a significant shift in voter preferences between the two elections, with the BJP gaining ground and ultimately winning the Karimganj constituency in 2019.

Assam CM’s- A Hindutva Hardliner:

Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Chief Minister of Assam, ignited controversy in October 2023 with remarks suggesting that the BJP wouldn't seek the votes of the 'Miya' community in the 'char' areas for the next decade unless they abandoned practices like child marriage.

Despite this stance, Sarma claimed that the 'Miya' community continued to support him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the BJP, even if they might not vote for the party.

Sarma's comments drew criticism, as child marriage is not exclusive to the Muslim community, with a significant number of Hindu children also affected, according to census data.

Our report on the Basundhara initiative also highlighted discriminatory practices against Muslims in government policies in Assam. The Mission Basundhara initiative, a key land settlement scheme of the Assam government, aims to regularize land held by cultivators and occupants without land titles.

However, the Assam Chief Minister made a startling revelation in the state assembly, stating that Mission Basundhara is exclusively for the "indigenous" population of Assam.

He further stated that Bengali-origin Muslims without land cannot avail themselves of this policy to apply for land.

The same report had also discussed his government's puzzling decision to temporarily halt the issuance of no-objection certificates (NOCs) for land transactions between individuals from diverse religious backgrounds during the course of the Lok Sabha Elections.

As the election drew nearer in March 2024, Sarma clarified during a campaign that the BJP had not discriminated against Muslims.

He expressed optimism about gaining Muslim support in the upcoming election and pledged to analyze any shortcomings if they chose not to vote for the party.

Amit Shah and Himanta Biswa Sarma at a roadshow in Silchar
Delhi's Dilemma: A Growing Economy and Growing Unemployment
Amit Shah and Himanta Biswa Sarma at a roadshow in Silchar
Dalit History Month: Is the Legacy of Madhubani’s Exquisite ‘Harijan’ Painting, Once a Catalyst for Dalit Women's Empowerment, Now in Jeopardy?

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless