The condition of minorities is worsening in Pakistan and their numbers are declining by the day. Minorities in Pakistan are severely charged with minor allegations, leading to punishments like the death penalty.
With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections approaching, Assam BJP President Bhabhesh Kalita, who assumed office in 2021, is engaged in devising the party’s strategy for the electoral battle. Having a journey that spans from grassroots activism to becoming the state party chief, Kalita offers his perspective on the political landscape. His aim is to elevate the BJP to new heights in Assam.
In an interview with Abhijit Deb, Kalita provides insights into the saffron party’s campaign tactics, alliances, and the challenges it confronts. He addresses critical issues such as seat targets, internal dynamics, alliances, and perceptions about the party’s stance on various matters, particularly in relation to the Muslim population in Assam.
Q. As the 2024 elections draw near, could you elaborate on how the BJP in Assam is preparing for the polls?
A: The Assam BJP is leaving no stone unturned to connect with the people of the state. We are focusing on grassroots outreach, engaging with voters through various social and digital platforms, and highlighting the developmental initiatives undertaken by our state government. In every constituency, around 30,000 to 35,000 families are benefiting from the government’s welfare schemes, and our workers will directly engage with them.
Q. How many seats does the BJP aim to win in the upcoming elections?
A: Our objective is to maintain the positive momentum we’ve built and secure a strong mandate from the people of Assam. We are confident of winning 12 or more seats in the Lok Sabha elections. I can assure you that we are committed to achieving a substantial number of seats that will enable us to effectively serve the people and continue the state’s growth trajectory.
Q. The delimitation process is expected to impact the election process. How do you anticipate it affecting the upcoming elections in Assam?
A: Delimitation is a constitutional process aimed at ensuring fair representation. While it can influence electoral dynamics, our party is well-prepared to adapt to these changes. We are closely monitoring developments and adjusting our strategies accordingly. Our focus remains on connecting with voters and presenting our vision for Assam’s progress. We recently had our core meeting after the delimitation process was completed which was attended by the former president of the party and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to finalise the party’s strategy for 2024.
Q. Reports of infighting within the Assam BJP, particularly between senior members and newcomers, have surfaced. Do you think this internal dynamic will impact the elections?
A: It’s natural for any large political party to host diverse opinions. Senior members are accorded due respect, and our party emphasizes unity and discipline. While healthy debates contribute to better policies, we are committed to resolving any differences amicably. Our collective goal of serving Assam and its people will always guide our efforts.
Q. Could you elaborate on the criteria for ticket distribution for the upcoming elections?
A: Ticket distribution is a meticulous process involving factors such as a candidate’s track record, grassroots connection, leadership abilities, and adherence to the party’s ideology. We aim to field candidates who can best represent the aspirations of the people of Assam and contribute to the state’s growth. The final decision on selecting parliamentary candidates will be made by the central leadership.
Q. Can you provide insight into the current relationships between the Assam BJP and its allies, United People Party Liberal (UPPL) and AGP?
A: Our alliances with the UPPL and AGP are essential for presenting a strong and united front in the upcoming elections. Both parties share a common vision of progress and development for Assam. Our collaboration with the UPPL is based on our commitment to regional growth, governance, and citizen welfare. Our alliance with the AGP reflects our dedication to preserving Assam’s cultural and regional identity. As we approach the elections, we are maintaining open lines of communication and aligning our efforts with the aspirations of the people.
Q. There’s a perception in Assam that the BJP does not want Muslim votes, despite the state having the second-highest Muslim population after UP. Could you address this perception?
A: It’s crucial to approach this topic with sensitivity and accuracy. The perception of a political party’s stance can be complex and vary due to various factors. We support indigenous Muslims in Assam while opposing illegal migration. The BJP has members and supporters from diverse backgrounds, including Muslims. While controversies might arise from specific incidents, it’s important to assess the party’s actions, policies, and official statements rather than making sweeping assumptions.
Q. The Tea Tribes play an important role in Assam elections, and other parties like the Congress and TMC are also making inroads in the tea gardens of Assam. What is the BJP’s stance on this?
A: The BJP in Assam has undertaken various welfare initiatives for the tea tribes of the state. Firstly, we implemented a wage hike for tea laborers across gardens in Assam. Financial inclusion measures like Jan Dhan have benefited every tea tribe family in the state. In the last state elections, we received overwhelming support from the tea tribes. They had long been neglected by the Congress and left to fend for themselves. After the BJP came to power, the first thing we did was to develop a comprehensive plan for the welfare of the tea tribes. Politically, they are now well-represented both in the assembly and in parliament. We have a Minister of State, Mr Rameshwar Teli, from the tea tribe community holding an important portfolio in the petroleum ministry.
Q. Hindu Bengali voters have traditionally been BJP supporters in the state. However, with the delimitation process, there was resentment in the Barak Valley region of the state, predominantly inhabited by Hindu Bengalis. Will this have any impact on the parliamentary elections?
A: BJP has always stood with Hindu Bengalis in the state. We introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act to provide justice to those who are victims of partition and religious persecution in Bangladesh. There is no resentment among the Hindu Bengalis; they solidly support BJP, and as a party, we stand for every Hindu Bengali in the state. Congress has opposed the CAA, which shows how much they care for them. All misunderstandings among BJP leaders from the Barak Valley regarding the delimitation process have been resolved in a meeting with the state leadership. BJP is poised to perform exceptionally well in the Barak Valley in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.