Assam’s Barak Muslims Okay With Bharat Mata Slogan But Won’t Vote for BJP

SILCHAR: Tajuddin Barbhuiyan does not mind chanting the BJP’s often shouted slogan of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” but he says will not vote for the saffron party because of its “communal” and “divisive” politics.

“What’s wrong in shouting that slogan? Am I not an Indian? I am not on (AIMIM chief) Asaduddin Owaisi’s page. I will chant the slogan a hundred times,” the 73-year-old retired Assam State Electricity Board officer Barbhuiyan, who hails from Udharbond constituency in Cachar district, told Express on Monday.

Several other Muslims, who are politically conscious like Barbhuiyan, say they would feel proud chanting the slogan.

But they say they will not vote for the BJP because of its “politics of hatred and intolerance”.

“I closely followed the developments surrounding (Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president) Kanhaiya Kumar. There was nothing wrong in his assertions but the vindictive BJP-led government at the Centre slapped sedition charges against him,” Barbhuiyan said.

Qutubuddin Barbhuiyan, who deals in building construction materials and was listening the conversation with rapt attention, said he too would vote for the Congress. “Congress helps us to live; BJP crushes,” he said. The two Barbhuiyans represent the sentiments Muslims in the valley have towards the BJP.

The State’s ruling Congress holds sway in Barak, which comprises 15 seats.

Bengali Muslims and Bengali Hindus each make up around 45 per cent of the voters. Most of them have traditionally voted for the ruling party. In the 2011 polls, Congress had grabbed 13 seats. The AGP and the minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) had won one seat each while the BJP had drawn a blank.

Riding on the Narendra Modi wave, the BJP had sprung a surprise in Assam in the 2014 Parliamentary elections, winning seven of the state’s 14 seats.

But it had scored a zero in on this remote, land-locked valley where the Congress and the AIUDF won the two seats.

Bengali Hindus in mainland Assam are seen as the BJP’s votebank but those living in Barak are yet to embrace the party. Internal fighting and groupism are among factors why the BJP has not been able to keep them in good humuor here.

The BJP has spruced up Barak’s rural areas with posters and appeals to vote for change. But given the mood on the ground and the Congress’ firm footing, the change will, perhaps, remain a mirage, at least in this picturesque valley, parts of which share a border with Bangladesh.