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Explained: Just six women in new Assam Assembly, MLAs under 40 down by half

The BJP had fielded eight Muslim candidates, all of whom lost. That leaves the BJP-led alliance with no Muslim among 75MLAs.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
Updated: May 5, 2021 7:27:36 am
Election officials sit wearing masks and face shields during the counting of votes of Assam state Assembly election in Guwahati, Sunday, May 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

The newly Assam Assembly has 31 Muslims out of 126 MLAs — all from the Congress-led grand alliance — and just six women. It is also an older Assembly than the previous one, with just 8 MLAs under age 40 as compared to 16 in 2016.

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Muslim MLAs

The 31 Muslim MLAs, up from 28 in 2016, are from the Congress (16) and the Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF (15). These represent almost 70% of the 45 MLAs from these two parties, and 62% of the 50 in the alliance that also includes the BPF (4 MLAs) and the CPM (1 MLA). As a propostion of Muslims fielded, it comes to 84% — or 5 in 6 — of the 37 Muslim candidates of the Congress (19) and AIUDF (18).

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The BJP had fielded eight Muslim candidates, all of whom lost. That leaves the BJP-led alliance with no Muslim among 75 MLAs.

Among the 31, two are two first-timers: Abdul Batin Khandekar, 53, the Congress winner from Abhayapuri North, and Ashraful Hussein, 28, the AIUDF winner from Chenga. Both have been vocal activists representing the state’s Bengali-origin Muslims, a community at the centre of the state’s identity politics and citizenship determination processes.

Women MLAs

The count of six women MLAs is down from eight in 2016. Two each are from the BJP, its ally AGP, and the Congress.

AGP’s Renupoma Rajkhowa, 66, won a fourth straight term from Teok, which she has represented since 1991. The party’s other woman MLA, Nandita Garlosa, is a debutante who won from Haflong.

Sibamoni Bora of the Congress defeated incumbent BJP MLA Angoorlata Deka, the actor, in Batadroba. The Congress’s Nandita Das retained Boro constituency.

Ajanta Neog, 57, who was a minister in Tarun Gogoi’s Congress-led government, joined BJP just before the elections and retained Golaghat, a seat previously held by her husband, former Congress minister, who was killed in 1996 by suspected ULFA militants.

BJP’s Suman Haripriya, 41, a filmmaker, retained Hajo, defeating AJP’s Dulu Ahmed.

Other key faces

From the AJP-Raijor Dal regional anti-CAA alliance, the only winner is jailed peasant leader Akhil Gogoi, in Sivasgar. Gogoi, 46, who leads RD, has been in jail for over a year after being booked by the NIA on charges relating to sedition and terrorism under provisions of the UAPA over anti-CAA protests.

“It appears that the AJP and Raijor Dal factor also helped the BJP consolidate its position in Upper Assam region. AJP and Raijor Dal need to do some soul searching on how they ended up helping the very forces that they were seeking to oppose,” AICC general secretary in-charge of Assam Jitendra Singh said in Guwahati on Monday.

The Assembly will also see vocal leaders from the tea garden worker community such a BJP’s Rupesh Gowala and sitting Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi. Former president of the apex literary body Asam Sahitya Sabha, Paramananda Rajbongshi, has won on a BJP ticket from Sipajhar.

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