The Leader of Opposition in the Assam Assembly and senior Congress leader, Debabrata Sakia, two days before the October 30 bypolls, ordered seeds of ‘Ursal Super Napier High Yield Grass’ (a kind of fodder) to be despatched to Bahabesh Kalita, President of Bharatiya Janata Party Assam unit and Promod Boro, the President UPPL and BJP ally in the government.
But what is the relevance of grass seed in the by-elections?
“Today I have sent four kg of seeds of high yielding grass to Bhabesh Kalita, President Assam BJP and Promod Boro, the President of UPPL. The objective of sending fodder seeds is that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in his election campaigns at Gosaingaon and Thowra constituency have said that if the people vote for BJP then they shall get 26 litres of milk. We know that if the cow doesn’t eat good grass it will not give 26 litres of milk. Assam doesn’t fare well in the hunger list and if people get 26 litres of milk then their health condition shall improve,” says Debrabata Saikia.
“People with the milk and the five kilograms of rice given by the BJP government now can have porridge and come to the CM meetings who keeps on asking people as to what they have eaten before coming to his meetings,” he added.
In the run-up to the Assam by-elections, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the star campaigner of BJP, was involved in a series of election campaigning concentrating more on the two uppers Assam constituencies of Mariani and Thoura which for years have been a stronghold of the Congress.
In his rallies at Thoura and Gosaigaon, CM Sarma urged people to vote for BJP as the party will give 26 litres of milk. Taking a jibe at the opposition parties in Assam, Sarma claimed that BJP is in a position to provide 26 litres of milk while they can’t get anything from the opposition parties. He urged people to buy a cow that provides milk and not bulls.
“Congress has no government in the State, so it can’t give milk, Raijor Dal’s (has fielded a candidate in Mariani and Thoura) government is nowhere to be found so no matter how hard you milk, you will not get anything. On the other hand, you can get 26 litres of milk by milking BJP,” Himanta Biswa Sarma had said, addressing an election rally in Thoura.
Addressing a crowd at an election rally in Bodo Territorial Region recently, the CM said, “You visit a market and find two cows. One gives milk but the other doesn’t. Which one will you buy? You will obviously buy the one that gives milk. So, if you vote for Congress, AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) or ‘Nangol party’ (BPF the former ally), it will eat the fodder but will not give milk since it is not in power. But if you feed the tractor (UPPL symbol), you can get 26 litres of milk by milking your cow.”
Cow, core to Assam politics.
The Chief Minister introduced the Bill to replace the Assam Cattle Preservation Act 1950, claiming that the older legislation does not have sufficient safeguards to regulate slaughter, consumption and illegal transportation of cattle on July 12.
The Bill was passed on August 13, the last day of the Budget session. The new legislation prohibits the sale and purchase of beef in areas inhabited by non-beef eating communities and within a 5-km radius of a temple or a satra (Vaishnavite monasteries). The legislation further specifies a ban on interstate transport of cattle to and from Assam, without valid documents, supposedly to curtail the smuggling of cattle to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Defending the Cow Protection Bill, in his campaign the Chief Minister mentioned that there should not be any doubts with the bill as it does not restrict the trade of cows for agricultural or domestication. “People of Assam have been trading cattle for ages and still can continue doing so,” said Sarma.
Polling for by-elections to five Assam Assembly constituencies began at 7 am under the strict implementation of the Covid-19 protocols. Around 7.96 lakh voters shall decide the electoral fate of 31 contestants.
The by-elections pitched to be the litmus test for the BJP, who is contesting in three constituencies to make forays into areas which earlier were not in their kitty and accomplish is Mission 100 agenda. The prominent BJP contestants include Rupjyoti Kurmi, Sushanta Borgohain, Phanidhar Talukdar. For Congress, it’s time to salvage its lost glory as two of its turncoat MLAs shifted to BJP initiating the elections. Congress, contesting this election on the plank of misrule and price rise of the BJP government has shunned its previous five promises which did not yield expected results in the 2021 assembly elections.
By-elections in Gossaigaon and Tamulpur were necessitated due to the death of the sitting MLAs.