A few months ago, Himanta Biswa Sarma was the first political leader to mainstream the term ‘Love Jihad’ with open talks on the subject on public platforms, although Yogi Adityanath later stole the limelight on the matter. Now Sarma is mainstreaming another term, ‘Miya Muslim’, used primarily for Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam, who are considered outsiders by the native Assamese population.
'Miya Muslims' don't vote for us (BJP), I am saying this on the basis of experience, they didn't vote us in Panchayat & 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP will not get votes in the seats that are in their (Miya Muslims) hands, while other seats are our: Assam Minister HB Sarma (30.1) pic.twitter.com/lQzfFKI4MC
— ANI (@ANI) January 31, 2021
On the question about how many seats BJP expects to win in the Bengali Muslim dominated areas, Himanta said, “Miya Muslims’ don’t vote for us (BJP), I am saying this on the basis of experience, they didn’t vote us in Panchayat & 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP will not get votes in the seats that are in their (Miya Muslims) hands, while other seats are our.”
Himanta said that the party will field its candidates on those seats so that the people who do not identify themselves as ‘Miya Muslims’ have the option to vote for lotus (BJP’s electoral symbol) or elephant (Ason Gana Parishad’s symbol).
‘Miya’ is a Persian word used to refer to someone as Gentlemen. However, across India, the term is used to refer Muslims who have a very conservative religious outlook.
The Assam Legislative Assembly has 126 seats and the largest parties in terms of representatives in the assembly are – BJP, Congress, AIUDF, Asom Gana Parishad, and Bodo People’s Front. For decades, Congress was the hegemonic party in the state, forming the government continuously for three terms. However, the situation changed completely when Himanta Biswa Sarma dumped Congress to join BJP because the grand old party kept him at bay and promoted Gaurav Gogoi, son of the then CM Tarun Gogoi, despite the fact that Himanta is the most popular leader in the state.
Bengali Muslims, who constitute around 28 per cent of the state’s population, vote primarily for All India United Democratic Front, the party of a hardcore Islamic leader, Badaruddin Ajmal, and a small number of them still vote for the ‘secular’ Congress party.
Bengali Muslims rarely vote for BJP, and after the CAA-NRC, it is almost impossible for the saffron party to win a single vote in the Muslim dominated areas and Himanta, being the astute politician that he is, knows this very well. And this is the reason why he wants to unite the Hindu votes to come to power with a majority and already declared that the saffron party does not need Muslim votes.
The mainstreaming of the word ‘Miya Muslim’ would go a long way just like ‘Love Jihad,’ coined-in by Himanta. In Assam, the native people are fed up with the inflow of the migrants from Bangladesh and takeover of the state who represent Bengali culture. They want the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the state to disenfranchise the illegal immigrants. Moreover, the Assamese also want these people to be deported to Bangladesh as soon as possible or kept in refugee camps instead of living on their expenses. With Hindus rallying behind the party, BJP will come to power in Assam with an even bigger majority in the 2021 assembly election.