Himanta Biswa Sarma,

Guwahati- Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is beset with the problem to control the Muslim population growth rate in the state. He has constituted seven sub-committees in July 2021 asking them to recommend ways and means to address the issue of the growing Muslim population in Assam.

The seven sub-committees have deliberated on the issues like health, education, skill development, preservation of cultural identity, financial inclusion, and empowerment of women to control the growth of the Muslim population in Assam.  The seven committees submitted their report to the Chief Minister on Friday, April 22, 2022.

Assam Chief Minister after receiving the recommendations made by the panels said that his government would formulate short, medium, and long terms plan to control population growth among the Muslim community.

The Assam Chief Minister had earlier held several interactive meetings with intellectuals and prominent citizens belonging to the Muslim community. It’s reported that he told them that the high population growth among Muslims has caused poverty and illiteracy in the community. He appealed to the community leaders to adhere to the population policy with a two-child norm and take family planning measures to check the population growth among Muslims.

According to the 2001 and 2011 Census, the Muslim population is growing at a rate of 29 percent (decadal). In contrast, the Hindu population has come down from 22 percent to 16 percent and has further reduced to 10 percent during the latest censuses.

Muslims comprise 34.22 percent of the 3.12 crore population of Assam, of which 4 percent are indigenous Assamese Muslims and the remaining are mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims.

The number game of democracy is playing out against the BJP’s Hindutva politics.  The saffron party is finding it hard to maintain its ascendency in the state due to the growth of the Muslim population in Assam.

Muslim voters are determining factor in at least 30 to 35 seats out total of 126 Assembly seats of Assam. Out of 34 districts in Assam, in 6 districts the Muslim population is 50 percent or more. In another 19 districts, Muslim population is 12 percent or more. So in 25 out of 34 districts in Assam Muslims are electorally significant.

However, this has become a problem for the BJP, because democracy is a number game and in this game, BJP is losing out decisively.

In order to address the problem, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma constituted seven committees to recommend government-specific policies and measures to decelerate the growth of the Muslim population in Assam.

The Assam Chief Minister has taken the plea that his aim is to eradicate poverty and illiteracy among the Muslim community and he wants to accelerate the socio-economic and academic empowerment of the Muslim community, but the actual intention is to trim the Muslim population’s growth rate.   He wants to create an even playfield so that the Hindu vote bank can have an ascendency over the Muslim population in the state.

As Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma defines Assamese nationalism in Hindu terms, his pitch to check the growth rate of the Muslims, is seen as an attempt to amplify his rhetoric.

This article first appeared on muslimmirror.com