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Chronic woes hover over polls

- In the face of neglect, people wonder if value of votes has depreciated

Guwahati, April 23: Despair and hope over solutions to problems like influx, doubtful voters, NRC update, floods and erosion reign supreme as six constituencies of Assam go to the polls tomorrow.

Voters of the state, especially those from Barpeta, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Mangaldoi and Nagaon, seem to have lived with these issues for eternity. The ethnic riots in Bodoland Territorial Areas District in 2012 and the violent opposition to the pilot project to update NRC in 2010 are ugly manifestations of these issues.

Gauhati is the sixth constituency to vote tomorrow.

Hafiz Ahmed, president of Char Chapori Sahitya Parishad, said votes have lost their value for people, particularly the minorities living in Barpeta, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Mangaldoi and Nowgong constituencies, which vote tomorrow.

“There are 12 lakh erosion-hit people living in Dhubri and Barpeta. They have lost their land and livelihood. But no political party is serious about the problem and come to these people only to seek votes with the same promise of declaring floods and erosion a national problem,” he said.

Ahmed said for political parties like the Congress, the AIUDF and the BJP, the issues of illegal influx, “D” voters and NRC update are simply tools to exploit the poor, hardworking and illiterate minorities. He said even two years after the Kokrajhar riots, many minority families were languishing in relief camps awaiting rehabilitation.

Ahizuddin Sheikh, principal of Dhubri Bhola Nath College, said Dhubri was one of the most backward districts. This when the sitting MP of Dhubri constituency, AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, claims to be a messiah of the minorities.

Political analyst Arupjoyoti Choudhury said a different trend had been noticed this time among voters in the age group of 18 to 28 in the minority-dominated areas of these constituencies. He said a section of the minority youth did not seem to be averse to the “Neo-Hinduism of the latest BJP variety” and appear to be affected by the Modi wave but wondered if this would actually translate into votes. He said the issues have continued for so long that long-held values seem to have been affected. Soumen Saha, a young voter of Dhubri town, said polls come and go every five years but this time it seems to be carrying some weight. “Since every vote has become important, I will judge a candidate’s credentials and if his party is likely to form the government in Delhi, will cast my vote accordingly.”

Choudhury said political parties, especially the AGP and the BJP, whose poll issues for Assam are more or less the same, had failed to forge a strong political alliance to solve issues like influx and NRC update.

AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya alleged that not a single party was sincere about solving the problems that threatened the identity of the indigenous people of the state. Last month, AASU had asked all political parties to clear their stand on the issue of influx, NRC update, constitutional safeguard of Assamese people before the first phase of polls on April 7. But not a single party had responded.

The people’s verdict will only be known on May 16.


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