Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has stirred controversy by stating that the BJP doesn’t require the votes of ‘Miya’ people, referring to Bengali-speaking Muslims from riverine sandbar areas, for the next decade. Sarma suggested they could support the party by chanting slogans without casting their votes.
Sarma believed that for him to seek electoral support from the Miya community, it was vital for them to reform their practices first. He went on to speak about several such criteria that they would have to meet before he would seek their votes, and until then, they could support him in any way they pleased.
Sarma outlined specific criteria ‘Miya’ people should meet before the BJP seeks their votes, including practising family planning, eradicating child marriage, and renouncing fundamentalism. He estimated a ten-year timeline for these conditions to be met.
Sarma also went on to state that those who support him in the Miya community need to actively try to achieve certain reforms, including limiting family sizes, allowing their daughters to get an education and stopping the propagation of child marriage in their community. He also suggests that the community let go of the fundamentalist elements in their community and instead join sects like Sufiism.
However, some questions were raised about the need for more school facilities for children in the ‘char’ area these communities call home. He promised that wherever such deficiencies are brought to his notice, he will ensure adequate educational facilities are constructed there. He also highlighted that he will inaugurate seven new colleges in minority areas to ensure equitable educational opportunities for them.