Assam: Congress Embarks on Damage Control on 'Miya Museum' Controversy
GUWAHATI: Assam Congress finds itself on a sticky wicket on the 'Miya Museum' controversy as the party now fears that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been handed on a platter an issue which it could use maximize polarization of voters ahead of the assembly elections in the state.
Sherman Ali, MLA from the minority-dominated Baghbar constituency, stirred a hornet’s nest by demanding the opening of the Miya Museum to showcase the “Miya” cu
lture in the prestigious Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra cultural centre in Guwahati, which was established in the name of the neo-Vaishnavite scholar Srimanta Sankaradeva.
In fact, the Assam Congress President Ripun Bora has written to Sherman Ali cautioning him about any further comment on the issue and barred him from giving any statements in the future.
Congress leaders are openly admitting that the comment of Ali would harm the poll prospects of the grand old party as BJP will use the issue to whip up the communal sentiments.
“That is what the BJP wanted after the Madrassa controversy. The Miya Museum issue was just the right fodder the saffron camp needed before the assembly elections and the party will exploit the situation to its fullest to polarize the voters,” a senior Congress leader said.
In fact, the Congress state leadership has embarked on a damage control exercise to nip the controversy in the bud so that it doesn’t affect the poll prospects of the party.
Understandably, the BJP camp in Assam is excited about the situation and desperation is apparent in the camp. With just seven months to go for the state polls, abandoning all talk of development and the inclusive slogan of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas,” the brainstorming oratory of some of its senior leaders is now focusing on the issue as never before.
Political experts opine that given that Muslims largely do not vote for the BJP, it relies on Hindu consolidation as both a realpolitik and ideological tactic to gain ground.
After the 2014 general elections, the BJP has consistently lost its vote share in the assembly elections. In Assam, the party’s vote share fell from 36.86 percent in 2014 to 29.51 percent in 2016.
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