Updated: February 4, 2021 7:36:26 am
Ahead of the state Assembly polls, Assam’s Health, Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said that the BJP does not need votes from the Bengali-origin Muslim community in Assam — often colloquially referred to as ‘Miya’ Muslims — to win the elections, and accused the community of “openly challenging Assamese culture and language and the composite Indian culture”.
“They have started identifying themselves as Miyas. These so called Miya people are very very communal and fundamental and they are involved in many activities to distort Assamese culture and Assamese language. So I don’t want to be an MLA with their vote. I will not be able to sit in the Assembly if they voted for me,” Sarma told reporters in Guwahati. “The people who are openly challenging Assamese culture and language and challenging composite Indian culture, they should not vote for us.”
Sarma said the BJP will not give tickets to those who identify themselves as Miya Muslims and urged the Congress to do the same. The Congress has allied with the AIUDF — a party which enjoys a large support base in the Bengali-origin Muslim community — and four other parties, but Sarma said that the BJP’s poll prospects will not be affected by the alliance.
“When we speak of Muslims in Assam, there are two types — one is the indigenous Assamese Muslims, who usually vote for the BJP and, even if they don’t vote for us, they are associated with our culture and heritage… whereas the other category is of those who do not even have their names properly in the NRC as of now,” Sarma said.
The minister said the BJP-led government has worked for the development of the community but it will not vote for them. Asked whether the community’s votes will affect the saffron party’s goal of winning over 100 of the total 126 Assembly seats, Sarma said it will certainly have no impact on the BJP’s poll prospects.
‘Hajela singularly responsible’
Meanwhile, reiterating the BJP government’s stand that the NRC published in 2019 was flawed, Sarma said the “Assam government sticks to its demand for a re-verification”. He also said that former state coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, was “singularly responsible for the mess, both financial and legal, and the injustice to the people of Assam”.
The Assam government is waiting for the Supreme Court’s permission to initiate a fresh drive to update the NRC, Sarma said. The state NRC coordinator has already submitted “a very good affidavit” in the Gauhati High Court highlighting why we need a fresh update of the NRC, the minister said at a press conference. The updation will “mainly depend on the Supreme Court permission”, Sarma said.
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