Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on June 23 termed the delimitation exercise of the Election Commission of India as the “only way to protect the Assamese identity”.

Sarma said that the proposed delimitation will provide safeguards to the “Khilonjiya” (original inhabitants) Assamese people which was not done during the NRC update process.

While the chief minister is vocal about the ‘safeguards’ the delimitation process will provide from ‘Bangladeshi infiltration’, a section of leaders within the BJP are unhappy with the draft delimitation published by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The draft delimitation has proposed a major overhaul in many assembly and parliamentary seats in Assam. Many prominent leaders cutting across party lines may face uncertainty in the upcoming elections if this draft gets accepted.

In Cachar district, the local BJP unit is unhappy over the draft. This is because the Silchar Lok Sabha seat has been proposed to be reserved for a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate. In that case, the current MP representing the seat, Rajdeep Roy, will not be able to contest the polls in 2024.

Also, major changes have been proposed in the boundaries of each assembly seat in the district, which has irked the local leaders who have started to oppose the delimitation draft.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader and five-time MLA Prodip Hazarika said: “My constituency Amguri has been proposed to be abolished in the draft. But this is one of the oldest constituencies in the state and the first election was held here in 1951, just after Independence. Amguri has given some of the tall leaders to state politics.”

Hazarika also warned of launching a protest in his area if the draft is not altered.

“We are discussing the issue within our party and a formal decision on the delimitation will be taken soon,” he added.

However, chief minister Sarma claimed that the draft delimitation will prove beneficial for the original inhabitants of Assam. “To save the original inhabitants of Assam from the invasion of Bangladeshi infiltrators, this draft delimitation must be properly implemented,” Sarma said.

Reacting to the opposition among BJP leaders and its ally AGP over the draft, Sarma said: “I know some people are disappointed. Even my constituency faces some major changes. The people who voted for me for the last several years will have to cast their votes in a different constituency. I am saddened, but I have to accept it because we must understand that delimitation is the only way to protect the Assamese identity.”

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