The new face and theme of campaign in Assam - As unifier

Assam, March 17: Ahead of Assam Assembly polls Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released a theme of a campaign which says that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is ‘The Unifier’.

The four minutes clips show the infinite work done by the BJP in Assam in the leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal.

This clip has the voice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi showing the confidence of Sonowal for all the development work in the state.

On March 6, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from poll-bound Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, uploaded a music video on his Twitter handle. The song centred the party’s election campaign around Sarma.

The poll song in Assamese says, “Aahise aahise Himanta aahise aaxa re botora loi (Here comes Himanta bringing the news of hope).

While prodding the kokaideu (the elder brothers) to come out of their homes to join Sarma in his campaign to help return the BJP to power in the northeastern state, the song also makes use of a term used for him by his critics in the state – mama (maternal uncle). By now, it is pretty common to find people casually calling Sarma ‘mama’. The YouTube title of the poll song refers to Himanta as “super Mama”.

Closely watching the clips used in the party’s song, however, gives a glimpse into how the BJP – even while riding a considerable wave against the Assamese voters’ anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act sentiments in the coming polls – is also subtly trying to replug its 2016 promise to the majority community to safeguard their jati mati bheti – or their identity against ‘Bangladeshis’.

Having supported the cause of undocumented non-Muslim Bangladeshis to settle down permanently in Assam and elsewhere through the CAA, and thereby violating the primary clause of the Assam Accord brought in by the Centre to settle the state’s ‘foreigners’ issue, the Hindu rightwing party naturally can’t openly talk about protecting the ‘identity of the community anymore.

Also Read: High-level committee’s report on Assam Accord Clause 6 under examination


What it is doing, though, is using the term xonoskriti (culture) to carefully try and remind the Assamese voters of who their perceived political ‘enemy’ is. Sarma has gone on record terming the state’s Muslims of East Bengali origin as the ‘enemy’ of the Assamese people and the perceived usurpers of Assamese culture. Assam Unifier.

In other words, by using the term xonoskriti in his poll song, Sarma is cleverly trying to communalize the assembly polls once more – the tried and tested formula for the BJP not just in Assam but elsewhere too. Its nationwide election template has so far been to polarise voters on communal lines, while also playing with voter sentiments on ‘nationalism’.