Assam Bengalis
Press meet addressed by members of Bengali-speaking Assamese community at a hotel in Tinsukia on Wednesday. | PC: EastMojo image

Tinsukia: Three days ahead of the Assam Assembly polls, the Bengali-speaking Assamese community leaders have expressed anger for being neglected by the BJP,  calling “sabka saath sabka vikas,” a slogan engineered by PM Modi on which the saffron party is banking on to win the election, a myth.

Santosh Biswas, a social worker of the community, said that out of approximately 1.7 lakh registered voters in the Tinsukia assembly constituency, the Bengali-speaking people count for over 70,000 votes. The Assamese community is in second place with around 45,000 voters, followed by Hindi-speaking community and tea tribes community with about 28,000 and 13,000 voters, respectively.

Ekta slogan chhillo sabka saath, sabka vikas oye kotha ta aamade apluto kore chhillo 2016 teh… Kintu 2021 aiche aamar de peeth dewale theke geyche (In 2016, we were attracted by the slogan ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas,’ but in 2021, we feel cheated),” Biswas said. “We have been neglected. Are we there to only support leaders of other communities. Don’t we have political ambition?” he asked.

Pointing out at BJP candidate Sanjay Kisan, Biswas said the representative of 13,000 voters gets a chance every time, while those constituting majority of voters, the Bengali-speaking Assamese community and the Assamese community, will continue to be neglected.

“Is this their sample of everyone’s right, which PM Modi keeps saying through his slogan sabka saath...”

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Appealing to voters for independent candidate Subhasish Bhattacharjee alias Kaju, Biswas said, “Ignoring Bengali and Assamese communities by giving ticket again to a representative from the tea tribe community, the BJP has immensely pained us. We will show our power to Delhi and Dispur.”

“Last time, the BJP gave ticket to a candidate from tea tribes. We never objected to it, and rather voted for the BJP. We have nothing against tea tribe community,” said Biswas.

“Tinsukia has a cosmopolitan character and the ticket should be given on rotational basis to candidates from various communities.”

Attacking Kisan, the BJP candidate from Tinsukia, All Assam Bengali Yuva Students Federation general secretary (central committee) Bijay Chanda said the government distributed lakhs of land pattas but ignored the Bengali community refugees, who came to Assam and settled at Makum during partition.

“What has Kisan done for them?” he asked.

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“We are unsatisfied with the present MLA for a number of reasons, including unemployment. He did not extend any help to us during our central conference,” Chanda said, adding, “Those who did not recognize us then, why should we recognize them now.”

“We urged all political parties to give ticket preference to a Bengali-speaking candidate but we have been neglected. Hence, our community has decided to support independent candidate Subhasish Bhattachrjee, who was chairman of the Tinsukia Municipal Board, and has a good reputation. We cannot allow others to dominate us,” Chanda said.

“We are with AASU on Assam Accord and reject implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Assam. However, we support CAA in rest of India,” Chanda told EastMojo.

The development assumes significance as the BJP projects CAA as a non-issue this election, but with fresh fire from Bengali-speaking Assamese community, the controversial legislation is back to limelight.

In 2019, Assam witnessed a series of violent protest against CAA. 

Eyeing the indigenous vote, all senior leaders of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have remained silent on CAA in their numerous election rallies this season, until BJP president J P Nadda, while releasing the party’s manifesto on Tuesday, said the party is committed to the implementation of CAA in Assam .

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