Assam Election 2021: Himanta Biswa Sarma Juggernaut to Continue in Jalukbari

-Partha Prawal

There are ten assembly constituencies under the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency. These are Dudhnoi (ST), Boko (SC), Chaygaon, Palasbari, Jalukbari, Hajo, Guwahati West, Guwahati East, Dispur, and Barkhetry.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has MLAs in seven of these constituencies, while its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has Guwahati West under its command and Chaygaon and Boko (SC) are with the Indian National Congress (INC).

So will the equation remain the same or there would be a change in 2021?

“BJP may gain a seat or two, but they are not going to lose any,” said Sahil Ahmed, a resident of the Jalukbari area.

“Himanta Biswa Sarma will get more votes than the last election. His opponents will be left far behind,” he added.

Such has been Sarma’s popularity that many believe that the seat will remain forever with him and it will see a change of face only if he decides to contest from some other constituency.

“Even if Himanta Biswa Sarma decides to contest as an independent candidate in future, we will vote for him,” said another local.

“He has done a tremendous job to develop the constituency and has provided the people a stability in business and income,” she added.

So the signal is green for Sarma, or is there a twist in the tale?

Even though voices favouring Sarma seem to be louder than those opposing, however, there are also random reports of severe dissatisfaction among the people.

In a release issued to the media, Sualkuchi Tat Sili Sansthan has appealed to the people to not vote for the BJP.

“To keep the age-old traditional handloom and textile industry of the state alive, one should not vote for the BJP,” association president Sarbananda Kalita said in the statement.

He also alleged that the Assam government has done nothing for Sualkuchi’s handloom industry in the last five years.

“We had submitted the names of 1406 weavers of Sualkuchi who were affected due to the COVID-19 lockdown. However, the distressed weavers were deprived of any help,” Kalita said in the statement.

He further said that the department has not helped the weavers as much as it has been claiming to do so.

“The government has maintained a stock silence regarding various issues concerning the weavers. Issues like weavers’ pension, medical help, life insurance cover etc. have been constantly ignored by the government,” Kalita further alleged.

“Even after so much hardship and distress, our MLA Himanta Biswa Sarma did not stand near the weavers even for once in last five years. Weaving is the primary source of income of the people of Sualkuchi and the government’s negligence is gradually pushing weaving to a sad end,” he further said.

“Once there were 17,000 handlooms in Sualkuchi and all that we are left with is just 5,000,” Kalita bemoaned.

“Financial crunch has forced people to sell off their handlooms and youths are being forced to work in private companies as bonded labourers. Such a government should never be voted to power again,” he concluded.

Reacting to these allegations, a few locals said, “What Kalita has said is not entirely false. But here again, we would say that the said organisation has a political affiliation and it’s anti-BJP. Maybe this one reason that they are so vehement against BJP and Himanta Biswa Sarma.”

“There would be some voices of dissatisfaction and no one can stop these voices. These voices are feeble and won’t affect much in the outcome of the result. Himanta Biswa Sarma will win from Jalukbari,” said Chandan Kumar Jha, a businessman from North Guwahati.

In 2016, the total registered voters in Jalukbari assembly constituency were 1,81,215 out of which 1,55,436 voted.

Himanta Biswa Sarma received a total of 1,18,390 votes and INC’s Nirend Deka came second and received a total of 32,455 votes.

Jalukbari goes to poll on April 6.