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Selfies, hugs to feeling threatened by Congress wins in Bengali-Muslim areas: How Himanta Biswa Sarma’s narrative changed

After flaunting the turnouts at his rallies in Assam’s Bengali Muslim-majority constituencies during the Lok Sabha election campaign, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is now labelling the emphatic Congress wins in those seats as “dangerous” to the state’s social fabric.

Sarma, the BJP’s chief campaigner in Assam, had created ripples while campaigning ahead of the second phase of polling on April 26. Bengali Muslims comprise more than half the electorate in the two constituencies of Nagaon and Karimgan that voted in the second phase. In the constituencies of Darrang-Udalguri and Silchar, the community makes up a significant chunk of voters but is not the majority.

During the campaign, Sarma pointed to the large turnouts at his rallies in Bengali Muslim-majority areas such as Dhing, Laharighat and Rupohi in Nagaon and Hailakandi in Karimganj. There were images of him saying “I love you”, blowing flying kisses to the crowd, and hugging people at these rallies.

In contrast, on multiple occasions in the past, Sarma made statements that the BJP “does not need Miya votes”. Miya is a pejorative term for Bengali Muslims. His pitch was that the BJP’s welfare schemes were reaching all citizens, including Muslims, and that the party was ensuring development “without appeasement”.

In an interview, he told The Indian Express, “If you see my election speeches in Assam, I have not mentioned the word Muslim at all and I campaigned intensively in Muslim-dominated areas. I have transformed a large section of the Muslim community from being Hindu haters to those who can co-exist with Hindus.”

Sarma had been projecting wins in all 13 seats for the BJP, with Dhubri, where it is estimated that Bengali Muslims account for around 80% of the voters,

Read more on indianexpress.com