| Jayram Engleng |
Jai Ramji ki. This address was perhaps used to salute Lord Ram. But in Assam’s Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts if a stranger addresses one that way, one should understand that the person is a loyalist of BJP candidate Jayram Engleng.
It was popular only among limited followers till the other day when he was a Congressman. It became very common soon after Engleng joined the BJP and was named the party’s candidate from Diphu Lok Sabha seat which goes to polls on April 12 along with Silchar and Karimganj in Assam.
Engleng, 52, is from a very conservative Karbi family of Dalimbari in Hamren subdivision of Karbi Anglong district.
He joined active politics in 2001 and became an executive member of the Khorsingh Engti-led autonomous council. He was the chief executive member of the council from 2009 to October 2013.
“My father Moniram Engleng was an elected member of the first council formed in 1952. He is still alive. His dream of value addition in politics of the hill district inspired me to join politics,” Engleng said.
He is known as a strong advocate of the autonomous state movement. His supporters believe that his stand on the separate state issue during the post-Telangana move in July last year isolated him in the party.
“My aspiration to be a good businessman prompted me to leave Cotton College sometime in 1984. I started my career as a businessman thereafter, but the will to work for the people living in the hill region prodded me to join politics,” Engleng said.
“My wife cannot join the campaign this time as she is not well. But with support of all party workers of the two hill districts, I hope I will get an opportunity to represent them as their member in Parliament.”
The post-Telangana agitation in Karbi Anglong seemed to be the turning point in the political carrier of Engleng. He accompanied by leaders of the two district councils moved the Congress high command demanding consideration of the statehood issue.
Engleng’s loyalists feel that the decision to move the party leadership on the sensitive issue created a gap between the party and Engleng and subsequently pushed the party to go for Engleng’s alternative.
After being sidelined, Engleng joined the BJP.
“I have done the best. Now people’s support and the dream of an alternative to the sitting MP might make me the winner,” he said.
Altogether six candidates, including Engleng, contested for the Diphu seat this time. These include heavyweights like Congress candidate and sitting Lok Sabha member Birensingh Engti and HSDP candidate Chomang Kro.
Diphu constituency has 697,657 voters of which 356,533 are male .
BJP president Rajnath Singh has recently hinted that his party will seriously consider the statehood demand if it comes to power.