Assam

Assam Assembly Elections | Bengalis have seen through BJP’s lies, says former Silchar MP Sushmita Dev

Former Silchar MP and All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev is the most visible Congress leader in southern Assam’s Bengali-dominated Barak Valley, comprising 15 Assembly seats. She says the disillusionment of the people with the BJP’s “fake love” for Bengali Hindus could help the Congress regain the valley. Excerpts:

Is there a pro-CAA sentiment in Barak Valley that is perceived to help the BJP?

The Hindu Bengalis took the CAA bait because NRC was a fearful exercise for them as well as for Bengali Muslims. I have been asking people mesmerised by CAA if they really think it will protect them. Why then is the BJP speaking about implementing it in West Bengal and not in Assam where there has been opposition to the law (in Brahmaputra Valley)? Why didn’t (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji speak about it when he came for a rally in Karimganj? Because they know it is a fake promise and people have understood their fake concern for Bengali Hindus. The BJP is using many tools to say Hindu Bengalis are getting away from the Congress. But our vote share will increase this time.

BJP claims it has narrowed the divide between the Assamese-speaking Brahmaputra Valley and the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley. Has it?

They talk of bringing the people of the two valleys together. But they drove the wedge deeper with CAA besides polarising the voters of Barak Valley on religious lines. If you look at the demography of Cachar (district), you cannot win seats unless you have the votes of every community. We are not a party of one community. Bengalis have seen through the BJP’s lies through steps such as cancellation of holiday on Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary. How can you do that? Is he a Bengali icon or an international icon? And six of the eight BJP legislators are Bengali Hindus from Barak Valley but Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal makes them stand in the back. They have done nothing for Hindu Bengalis.

How important are detention centres and D-voters as issues for Congress?

Very. Our manifesto talks about resolving the problem of D-voters, an unconstitutional concept that has hounded the people of Assam for so many years. They are silent about it. I have visited detention centres, our MLAs have, a special team led by Jairam Ramesh did. Has one BJP leader done that? We are talking about these issues, but they are not. All they are promising is to review and rectify the NRC, which means they are going to exclude more people. How can you leave so many people stateless? Do you not have regard for international laws?


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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 8:44:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/assam-assembly/bengalis-have-seen-through-bjps-lies-says-former-silchar-mp-sushmita-dev/article34185336.ece

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