Monday, June 17, 2024

Delimitation only way to protect Assamese identity: CM

Even though there is displeasure among a section of leaders within the BJP on the draft delimitation for Assam published by the Election Commission of India (ECI), Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted on Friday that it would provide safeguards to the ‘Khilonjiya’ (original inhabitants) Assamese people, something which the National Register of Citizens (NRC) could not do.

The draft delimitation published by the ECI has proposed a major overhaul in many Assembly and Parliamentary seats in Assam. Many prominent leaders cutting across party lines may face uncertainty in the upcoming elections if this draft gets accepted.

In Cachar district, the local BJP unit is unhappy over the draft. This is because the Silchar Lok Sabha seat has been proposed to be reserved for a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate. In that case, the current MP representing the seat, Rajdeep Roy, will not be able to contest the polls in 2024.

Also, major changes have been proposed in the boundaries of each Assembly seat in the district, which has irked the local leaders who have started to oppose the delimitation draft.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader and five-time MLA Prodip Hazarika told IANS, “My constituency Amguri has been proposed to be abolished in the draft. But this is one of the oldest constituencies in the state and the first election was held here in 1951, just after Independence. Amguri has given some of the tall leaders to state politics.”

Hazrika also warned of launching a protest in his area if the draft is not altered.

“We are discussing the issue within our party and a formal decision on the delimitation will be taken soon,” he added.

However, Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that the draft delimitation will prove beneficial for the original inhabitants of Assam.

Sarma has been very vocal against the Bangladeshi Muslim infiltration issue in Assam and has raised the matter several times. Since he became the Chief Minister, it has been alleged that many of his actions were targeted against the Bengali-speaking Muslims living in the state.

The Chief Minister said, “To save the original inhabitants of Assam from the invasion of Bangladeshi infiltrators, this draft delimitation must be properly implemented.”

Sarma also admitted that NRC failed to address this issue and it is his government that has been batting for a new NRC in the state.

The state government has expressed its willingness to conduct a re-verification of the NRC at least in the districts adjacent to the Bangladesh border, alleging that names of Bangladeshi infiltrators were included in the NRC.

Reacting to the annoyance among BJP leaders and its ally AGP over the draft, Sarma said, “I know some people are disappointed. Even my constituency faces some major changes. The people who voted for me for the last several years will have to cast their votes in a different constituency. I am saddened, but I have to accept it because we must understand that delimitation is the only way to protect the Assamese identity.”

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