Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday (July 4) met 150 Muslim intellectuals and held a productive meeting to counter the threat of population explosion in the state. Himanta gathered indigenous Muslim personalities from various fields at a programme titled ‘Alaap Alochana – Empowering the Religious Minorities’ and whilst speaking to the media after the meet, confirmed that the Muslims agreed with his assessment.
Sarma said, “We discussed a number of issues confronting the indigenous minority community and it was agreed that the population explosion in some parts of Assam has caused a real threat for the development of Assam, more particularly in the economic sense.”
Popularity that cuts across party lines
The fact that Muslim leaders are showing a willingness to work with Sarma speaks volumes about the identity, the former Congress turned BJP leader has carved for himself. The minority community is ordinarily on the opposite end of the spectrum when a BJP government or a CM takes a similar decision, however, their support for Sarma is something of a rarity in the polarised political climate of the country.
Cutting through political lines, Sarma commands equal respect of his party as well as opposition leaders. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Muslims are ready to work in tandem with him.
Even before the meet, Sarma had sounded confident on the outcome of it. He said, “During last 1 month, I met both fractions of All Assam Minority Students’ Union and everybody has said that population is a problem and we need to resolve it. In Assam, there is no controversy,”
By working congruently, Assam can usher into a new era of development and achieve the aim of ‘being one of the top 5 states’ as set by Sarma himself. Already known for his hard taskmaster credentials, Sarma has been on a hot streak when it has come to tighten the loose screws in the state.
As reported by TFI, outlining his government’s 10-year vision for Assam, Sarma had recently remarked, “We have been able to manage our annual population growth somewhere around 1.6 per cent but if you go beyond statistics, you will realise that the Muslim population is growing almost at 29 per cent. This means poverty, illiteracy will increase among Muslims. So, we need to bring certain measures whereby the growth of the population can be slowed down.”
CAA-NRC and bringing Muslims on its side
However, the biggest victory of Sarma has been bringing the minorities to the same table on the issue of CAA-NRC. The North-eastern state has been facing the problem of illegal immigrants swarming to the state in hoards for some years now. Bringing CAA-NRC is being touted as the ultimate antidote to quash the decades-old problem.
The party, during the assembly elections, succeeded in portraying illegal Muslims of Bengali origin as the biggest threat to the indigenous communities in Assam and ultimately used it for its benefit. A move that was engineered by none other than Sarma himself.
Convincing the Muslims about their real identity and earning their trust on CAA-NRC was one of the reasons why the Congress-AIUDF alliance failed to rake in the minority votes and Sarma stamped his authority and ultimately won the CM seat.
After the anti-CAA violence took the grip of the state last year, there were reports about BJP leaders harbouring worries about the political fallout of the move. However, Sarma maintained his composure throughout the crisis and kept supporting the CAA and ultimately brought the party to safe shores whilst having the backing of Muslims.
Sarma – a firm and strict disciplinarian
Sarma’s modus operandi, when it comes to dealing with notorious elements of society, is as firm as anyone and has only brought accolades his way. When a mob of miscreants in June beat up a junior doctor named Dr Seuj Kumar Senapati, posted at Udali CCC in Hojai district of central Assam after a covid patient died, it was Sarma who threw himself into the thick of things to ensure speedy justice was delivered.
Showing tremendous urgency to punish the perpetrators, the Sarma administration rounded the major culprits of the violent assault within 24 hours. Sarma took to Twitter, and revealed, “24 culprits involved in this barbaric attack have been arrested and the charge sheet will be filed at the earliest. I am personally monitoring this investigation and I promise that justice will be served.”
24 culprits involved in this barbaric attack have been arrested and the chargesheet will be filed at the earliest.
I am personally monitoring this investigation and I promise that justice will be served. https://t.co/CVgRaEW0di
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) June 2, 2021
Sarma is quietly transforming Assam and bringing it on par with the other states. He has already projected himself as one of the tallest leaders going around in the country, and his stature is only set to rise as Muslims continue to gather in his corner.