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Friday, July 30, 2021

Himanta Biswa Sarma – The mercurial rise of a Hindutva icon from Assam

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On 10 May 2021, Himanta Biswa Sarma sworn in as the Chief Minister of Assam, with that he succeeds his colleague and Ex CM Sarbananda Sonowal. Contrary to the perception, he was considered as an able candidate, who can carry on the baton of Hindutva in a state which is mired with a massive influx of illegal intruders from Bangladesh.

Hemanta switched from the Congress party in 2015 and he has been considered as the finest additions to the BJP in recent years. Since then, he has gained a reputation as a troubleshooter for the BJP High Command in the North East. Even for the local problems of Assam to Manipur or Meghalaya, he has emerged as the go-to guy for the BJP. However, he has been looked at as an icon of Hindutva due to his recent actions.

Sarma began his political career in the AASU and at some point in time, he was a part of ULFA as well for a brief period. Then he joined the Congress and quickly rose in the ranks to number Two in the government before defecting to the BJP, as his promotion was being blocked by the then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and central leadership of Congress. He was left with no options and he had to leave the Congress despite having good relations with Sonia Gandhi.

Himanta – a No-nonsense Politician

Sarma is known for his wonderful oratory and organizing skills, he is among very few politicians who don’t believe in being diplomatic. He knows his territory and he has a good understanding of his adversaries as well, and he shed all his inhibitions to attack his opponents and leave no room for any sort of pseudo diplomacy.

He knows how to connect with the youth and he has good hold and understanding of local issues, the aspiration of people, the growing resentment against the Banglaeshi Muslims and demographic change in several districts.

Himanta has been rising as a firebrand, a no-nonsense and brave politician who believes in speaking his mind and addresses his core voters without fearing the potential impact on his image. Himanta believes in delivering a clear message in his campaigning and that is the reason why he won the elections without appeasing the Muslims, who were considered as kingmakers a few years back.

Himanta – the new Hindutva icon from Assam

Himanta has understood the ground reality and he is implementing the same “Garam-Naram” strategy of BJP leadership, where Sonowal has adopted a mild image, whereas Himanta has adopted a more aggressive, blunt, and Hindutva oriented image, which lures the Hindu voters and gives them a sense of association as well.  He is quite popular among people who call him ‘jatiya nayak‘.

During the recent assembly elections of Assam, Himanta Sarma openly and strongly challenged the Miya culture in Assam and stated that- “The Miya community in Assam was trying to create a parallel culture in the state, and we will oppose this thoroughly. We will not compromise our culture for the Miya Bhai’s.”

He was among the few leaders, who aggressively backed the government’s decision to protect Hindu immigrants through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). He asked the CAA critics to view India as a civilization that started 6,000 years ago. He further said that ours is a Hindu civilization, which wasn’t started in 1947 but 6,000 years ago.

People who believe India started in 1947 find a difference between Assamese and Hinduism/Indians. Those who believe India started 6,000 years ago don’t see that difference. That is the fundamental point of view. Himanta made this statement while releasing his book titled “Eta Xopunor Pom Khedi” (Chasing a Dream).

He further said that “If you believe in the Sanatani dharma and are a Hindu, you will accommodate everyone who is not a threat. I am a Hindu and my duty is to strike a balance between the interests of Hinduism and the interests of Assam. When you will see the final outcome of the CAA or its rules, you will see a fine balance between Hindu interests and the interests of Assam.”

He defines the Hinduism in a very simple way. He said that anyone can call him a chauvinist or communal, but he doesn’t view any Indian living in India or abroad as a stranger. He sees those as Hindus who see Bharat as their motherland. He could be a Muslim, Hindu or Christian. If there is a conflict between his religious scripture and India, he will vouch for India, not his religious views.

It was Himanta, who brought the minority appeasement politics to a grinding halt in Assam. He clearly said that “I am not dependent on the 34% votes (Muslims), they never vote for us. Himanta very well knew his strengths (Hindu and Hindutva) and he played to them openly and without any guilt syndrome.

Himanta Sarma is known for showing his loyalty to the cause of Hindutva and Nationalism unapologetically. From the issue of CAA to NRC, from the recent steps to ban cow slaughter to the ceasing of funding to the Madarsas and converting them to general schools, Himanta has projected himself as a brave Hindutva face of the Assam government and shed the conventional bogey of pseudo-secularism.

Recently he made an important statement on population control, he said that “We have already enacted a population policy in the last assembly session. But we particularly want to work with the minority Muslim community to reduce the population burden”. Well this statement could seems less diplomatic, but it is quite straight forward and shows his commitment to tackle population control issue.

As we said above, BJP follows the Naram-Garam strategy, the central leadership under PM Modi seems to have adopted the mild stance, which has paved the way for the rise of aggressive Hindutva leaders like Yogi in 2016 and Himanta in 2021, who have introduced freshness to the Hindutva cause. Modi’s image has been moderated in recent times, in such a testing time, leaders like Amit Shah, Yogi, and Himanta are the ones who will be looked upon with a ray of hope by the Hindu community.

The Hindus are also looking at leaders like Himanta who have not been molded by the structure of RSS still committed to the Hindutva cause and working selflessly to contribute towards the welfare of Hindus and Hindutva.

Himanta Biswa Sarma through his policies and actions has given a clear message that appeasement politics won’t work anymore, and the Hindutva cause can no more at the back burner. We are very much sure that under his able leadership, Assam will witness a massive transformation.

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