Aminul Haque Laskar, BJP’s only Muslim MLA in Assam, believes India is the safest country for the community and it can benefit only under a party that does not see it as a vote bank.
Laskar, who represents the Sonai assembly seat in southern Assam’s Barak Valley, is one of the 55 first-time legislators. But he stands out for being the only Muslim member among 86 who occupied the treasury bench (for the ruling party or alliance) of the 14th Assam legislative assembly.
The BJP, with 60 seats, is the largest party among the allies followed by the Asom Gana Parishad with 14 seats and Bodoland People’s Front with 12.
Muslims, on the other hand, dominated the opposition bench comprising 40 members. Fourteen of them are MLAs of Congress and 12 of All India United Democratic Front.
“People ask me why I joined BJP. I ask them why not,” Laskar, a 50-year-old contractor and an arts graduate, told Hindustan Times.
Laskar says the BJP has not made him feel like an “odd man out”. But he does feel the pressure of being the only representative of 34% Muslims of Assam in the ruling alliance.
“It is difficult to know a party unless one joins it. And I have in these few months found out Muslims in India have a better chance of improving their quality of life under the BJP than they did in years of Congress rule,” he said.
He added that Muslims in Assam can hope to be safer than in the 15 years of Congress rule that saw a number of communal riots. “India, anyway, is the safest country in the world for Muslims and that includes Islamic countries.”
“The Congress has used Muslims as vote-banks. A comparison of the ministry under Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi makes this apparent. The UPA government had 6.38% minority ministers while the NDA government under Modi has 8.36%,” he said.
Laskar has been a member of the National Students Union of India, the student wing of Congress, in the past. He switched over to the All Assam Students’ Union and then the AGP before joining the BJP this year.