Guwahati: Bobbeeta Sharma may not be a political veteran but she is not a greenhorn either. The well-known Assamese television and film personality and former beauty queen unsuccessfully contested the 2016 assembly election in the state from East Guwahati.
Three years down the line, Sharma is back with a renewed vigour — this time aiming for the prestigious Gauhati Lok Sabha constituency on a Congress ticket.
Among the issues on her agenda are better educational facilities, home-grown employment opportunities and 33% reservation for women in Parliament. This is not to forget her strong opposition to the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
“We have seen how Assam and the whole of Northeast have protested against the bill. Owing to the efforts of Congress working president Rahul Gandhi, it was stalled in the Upper House of Parliament,” she said, adding: “Yet, Amit Shah [BJP president], when he came to Lakhimpur, announced that if they came back to power they will bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which is very unfortunate.”
This shows that the BJP is against the preservation of Assamese society, Assamese culture, and also our language and identity, said the 52-year-old candidate. “In fact, in their vision document they had said that they want to follow the Assam Accord in letter and [in] spirit but what have they done?” asked Sharma, asserting that the BJP has gone against their poll promises by giving “a red carpet welcome to Bangladeshi… by supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill”.
This year, the Gauhati parliamentary constituency will see an interesting battle with two women from two major political parties pitted against each other. BJP is fielding former mayor Queen Ojha against Congress’ Sharma. Besides Ojha and Sharma, another woman — Junmoni Devi Khaund — is in the poll fray. Khaund is contesting the elections as an independent candidate.
India is used to celebrities from the entertainment industry entering into the big league, and Sharma is no different. She is an actress, professor, producer, director and now a politician. In 2005, she was also appointed as the chairperson of the Assam Film (Finance and Development) Corporation.
Regarding the ensuing elections and issues faced by the people that require immediate attention, Sharma said, “All the 10 constituencies have unique issues and problems, or scope for development.” While in some places, there is lack in the civic set-up such as fire stations and health centres, others lack basic facilities, she added.
The Gauhati Lok Sabha seat consists of 10 assembly constituencies, namely, Barkhetry, Boko (SC), Chaygaon, Dudhnai (ST), Dispur, Guwahati East, Guwahati West, Hajo, Jalukbari and Palasbari.
Taking a dig at the BJP government, Sharma said, “He [PM Modi] had said that two crore jobs will be given every year. Even in Assam , when [CM] Sarbananda Sonowal launched the party’s manifesto in 2016, they had promised 23-25 lakh jobs every year. But till now, this has not been fulfilled.” Further, demonitisation and GST (Goods & Services Tax) added to the woes of people, she said.
“We will locally generate livelihood measures. We would like to concentrate on [each] assembly’s special qualities.”
Taunting the BJP for failing to fulfill its manifesto promises, the Lok Sabha contender said, “Our party is one [where] we take the manifesto very seriously. When we make a promise, we see to it that it is kept.”
She urged the voters to make a conscious decision to vote this time, saying that the constituency was in the hands of BJP for the past 15 years, and they should decide what they have got from that MP who was here for those 15 years. “I would like to request them [voters] to give me five years. Let them test me for five years, if they don’t like me, they can vote me out of power. I want the opportunity to serve them,” she added.