May 5, 2021 10:50:26 pm
The Assam unit of the BJP Wednesday disbanded all its Minority Morcha units after the party’s dismal performance in minority-dominated areas in the state elections.
The BJP had fielded eight Muslim candidates in the elections to the 126-member house. All of them lost.
Some, according to the state BJP chief, received fewer than 20 votes in many booths—lower than the number of party booth committee members.
On Wednesday, the state BJP said in a statement that until further orders by state chief Ranjeet Dass, the Minority Morcha’s state-, district- and mandal-level units were to be dissolved with immediate effect.
Dass told The Indian Express: “We have several Morchas, like Mahila, Yuva, ST and others. Likewise, we have a Minority Morcha. We put up candidates in several minority-dominated seats. In these areas, in many booths, the candidates have not even got 20 votes which is the strength of the booth committee of the party there.”
“That means people there betrayed the party. So we have dissolved the Minority Morcha units,” added Dass, who won from the Patacharkuchi constituency.
In the recently-concluded election, the BJP-led NDA won 75 seats and the Congress-led Mahajot alliance bagged 50. Jailed activist Akhil Gogoi won the remaining seat.
In contrast to the NDA, the Mahajot will have 31 Muslim MLAs in the new Assembly.
BJP’s state Minority Morcha chief Muktar Hussain Khan told The Indian Express that he did not know the exact reason for the dissolution. “The party did not get as many votes from the minority community as it had expected,” Khan said.
In certain constituencies in western Assam dominated by the Bengali-origin Muslim community—that has been in the cross-hairs of the BJP’s poll rhetoric—the saffron party candidates suffered big losses.
In Jaleswar, for instance, the BJP candidate secured only 9.38 per cent of the votes while the victorious Congress candidate got 50.75 per cent. In Baghbar, the winning Congress candidate garnered over 52 per cent of the votes. The BJP candidate got 2 per cent.
Another member of the Minority Morcha said that because of certain statements criticising Bengali-origin Muslims—derogatorily referred to as ‘Miyas’—by some BJP leaders, workers from the community “faced immense difficulties when going out to ask for votes”.
Of the eight Muslim BJP candidates who lost, the most prominent was the Deputy Speaker in the outgoing Assembly, Aminul Haque Laskar, who contested from the Sonai constituency in Barak Valley.
Laskar, a heavyweight, lost to the Mahajot’s Karimuddin Barbhuiya (AIUDF) by 19,654 votes.
But Laskar pointed out Wednesday that he had received 52,283 votes this time—an improvement over his tally of 44,236 in the last election, which he won.
Laskar told The Indian Express that the reason for his defeat this time was an independent candidate, earlier associated with the BJP, and a Trinamool Congress candidate eating up around 20,000 votes which would have otherwise gone to the BJP.
Laskar supported the party’s decision to disband the Minority Morcha units, explaining that the problem was with how in some constituencies the party’s candidates did not even get 20 votes in some booths. He asked: “What’s the use of having a Minority Morcha unit when people in the booth committee are not voting for the party?”
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