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Business News/ Elections / Lok Sabha Elections 2024 Phase 2: Assam's Barak valley, stirred by NRC, awaits their unusual chance to elect an MP
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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 Phase 2: Assam's Barak valley, stirred by NRC, awaits their unusual chance to elect an MP

Barak Valley in Assam, previously a reserved seat, will vote for Karimganj Lok Sabha seat on April 26 after moving to unreserved category due to delimitation. The constituency, bordering Bangladesh, has high Muslim population and faces citizenship ambiguities.

Barak Valley: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a public meeting for the Lok Sabha polls, in Barak Valley of Assam (Himanta Biswa X)Premium
Barak Valley: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a public meeting for the Lok Sabha polls, in Barak Valley of Assam (Himanta Biswa X)

Lok Sabha Elections 2024 Phase two: Assam's Barak Valley will look forward to an unusual chance of voting to elect an MP during the 18th Lok Sabha polls on April 26. Barak Valley, that remained a reserved seat, one seat- Karimganj has moved to the unreserved category after a delimitation exercise, with the other seat- Silchar being in the reserved category. Residents of Barak Valley will vote for the Karimganj Lok Sabha seat and Silchar Lok Sabha seat on April 26.

As Indian Express reports, the Barak Valley, is experiencing a never before witnessed enthusiasm for the Lok Sabha Polls 2024. 

But why? 

Barak Valley in Assam is the nuanced location bordering Bangladesh, and often at the center of Bangali infiltration debate for Assam. 

Understanding Barak Valley

The Karimganj Lok Sabha constituency covers two districts of Assam’s largely Bengali-speaking Barak Valley – Karimganj and Hailakandi. The 2011 Census placed the Muslim population of Karimganj and Hailakandi at 56.36% and 60.31%, respectively.

Nestled alongside the Bangladesh border, Karimganj, especially the Barak Valley region, has been long shrouded in citizenship ambiguities. The enduring specter of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has cast a shadow over its populace, branded as "illegal" due to their Bengali language and Muslim identity.

After the drastic changes in Barak Valley following last year’s delimitation exercise, Karimganj is no longer a Scheduled Caste-reserved seat. Instead, Silchar, the Barak Valley’s other Lok Sabha seat, is reserved now.

Polling for Karimganj

A staggering total of 24 candidates are vying for the Karimganj seat, with prominent contenders including the incumbent BJP MP Kripanath Mallah, former Assam Bar Council chairman Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury representing the Congress, and businessman Sahabul Islam Choudhury from the AIUDF. 

Among the remaining candidates, 18 are contesting independently, while the remaining three represent smaller political parties.

BJP treads diplomatic waters in Karimganj

With an eye on retaining Karimganj, Assam ruling party BJP recognizes the significance of securing Muslim votes in addition to rallying Hindu support. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's frequent visits to the constituency within a tight timeframe, three times in a span of 20 days, have clearly underscored the party's concerted efforts to cultivate a diverse voter base.

Notably at the Lok Sabha election rallies in Karimganj, CM Sarma stays clear of mentioning the NRC, a factors that Assam banks on in voting for BJP. 

CM Sarma has also launched campaigns to clear “infiltrators" from government land and against child marriages, linking both openly to the Muslim community.

Karimganj results in 2019 Lok Sabha Polls

In 2019, the BJP’s Mallah had won Karimganj with a 44.62% vote share, with the AIUDF second with 41% of the votes. The Congress had got just 11.36% of the votes.

In 2014, the AIUDF had won with 40.91% of the votes, the BJP got 29.4%, and the Congress 25.54%.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sayantani
Sayantani is a Chief Content Producer with Livemint. Her interests are politics, war, and conflict. Off-duty, she explores cultural history and the 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed'
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Published: 25 Apr 2024, 06:14 AM IST
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