Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress bets on Sushmita Dev to tighten hold in Silchar
Sushmita Dev, the head of the All-India Mahila Congress is vying for a second term in the constituency where the CAB, has won support from Bengali-speaking Hindus for its plans to curtail Muslim immigrants but bestow citizenship upon Hindu, Buddhist and Christians among other minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.Updated: Apr 18, 2019 10:41 IST
The Congress is hoping that the position taken by Sushmita Dev, its Lok Sabha candidate from Assam’s Silchar, on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will put the brakes on the BJP’s ambitions in the Bengali-speaking Barak valley. Silchar and Karimganj in the valley will vote on April 18.
Dev, the head of the All-India Mahila Congress is vying for a second term in the constituency where the CAB?has won support from Bengali-speaking Hindus for its plans to curtail Muslim immigrants but bestow citizenship upon Hindu, Buddhist and Christians among other minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Nobody knew me in 2014,”?Dev said, during a brisk walk through her constituency that her father, Santosh Mohan Dev, won five times, as compared to the BJP that won it in 1991, 1998 and 2009.
As a native of the valley, Dev was pushed into a corner when the Congress decided to shed its earlier ambiguity and launch an all-out attack against the CAB.
“As far as I am concerned, everybody who is on the 2014 voters’ list is a citizen,” said Dev, who is an outspoken critic of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is currently being updated and also mired in controversy.
Unlike elsewhere, most migrants in the Barak Valley are Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. According to locals, they form the majority of the over 2,00,000 names excluded from the NRC draft in Cachar district, whose headquarter is Silchar. However, as a Congress candidate, Dev cannot openly support the BJP’s attempt to offer citizenship only to Hindus and other communities and exclude Muslims.
“NRC is a big issue and the harassment of people has only grown in the last three years,” Dev said. “Of course it is,” she said, when asked whether the NRC?was discriminatory to Bengali-speakers. However, she was careful not to distinguish between Hindu and Muslim Bengalis and restrict herself to random examples. “If your surname is Mukherjee, for instance, they ask you for 200 papers,” she said.
Dev is critical of the seeming U-turn taken by Prime Minister? Narendra Modi on CAB, when he visited the valley earlier in April and offered assurances to the Assamese people that he would bring in the bill only after discussion and consensus with all sections of Assamese society.
Earlier, the BJP’s dogged determination to push the CAB through without discussion had lost it a vital ally, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in the state. The recent re-alliance between the two parties drew sharp criticism from Dev who said that it indicated the BJP was not serious about CAB.
Her enigmatic stand on the CAB seems to have had the desired result. It has blunted the BJP’s campaign and provoked the BJP’s candidate, Rajdeep Roy, a doctor, to repeatedly question the Congress’ exact position on the Bill.
Dev’s jibes at the BJP on the CAB and the NRC may have prompted BJP general secretary Ram Madhav to hold a press conference in Silchar on April 16, the last day of campaigning.
“The NRC and CAB will eventually solve the issue of illegal infiltration. If anyone is left out of the final NRC list, they will have an opportunity to claim citizenship via the CAB,” he promised in a veiled bid to assure Hindu migrants that they stand to benefit from the controversial bill.
Meanwhile, the Congress seems well aware of the benefits it may reap from Dev’s position.
“Our local MP took a strong stand and firmly stood with the people of the Barak Valley, so the balance has tilted in our favour,” claimed Harish Rawat, Congress general secretary, in-charge of Assam earlier this week. “CAB has no relevance because the BJP already branded 40 lakh persons whose names were not on the NRC draft as ‘infiltrators’ (ghuspethiye). This hurt the sentiments of Bengali speakers,” he said.
The list of so-called infiltrators includes both Hindus and Muslims.
“Congress has made it clear citizenship of those who have come from Bangladesh was never in doubt and will not be in doubt in future,” Harish Rawat said.
|Karimganj||Radheshyam Biswas, AIUDF|
|Silchar||Sushmita Dev, Congress|
|Autonomous District||Biren Singh Engti, Congress|
|Mangaldoi||Ramen Deka, BJP|
|Nawgong||Rajen Gohain, BJP|
|Kishanganj||Mohammad Asrarul Haque, Congress|
|Katihar||Shah Tariq Anwar, NCP|
|Purnia||Santosh Kumar, JD(U)|
|Bhagalpur||Shailesh Kumar (Bulo Mandal), RJD|
|Banka||Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, RJD|
|Rajnandgaon||Abhishek Singh, BJP|
|Mahasamund||Chandulal Sahu, BJP|
|Kanker||Vikram Dev Usendi, BJP|
|Jammu and Kashmir|
|Srinagar||Farooq Abdullah, National Conference|
|Udhampur||Dr. Jitendra Singh, BJPs|
|Udupi Chikmagalur||Shobha Karandlaje, BJP|
|Hassan||H.D. Deve Gowda, JD(S)|
|Dakshina Kannada||Nalin Kumar Kateel, BJP|
|Tumkur||S. P. Muddahanumegowda, Congress|
|Mandya||CS Puttaraju, JD(S)|
|Mysore||Prathap Simha, BJP|
|Chamrajanagar||R Dhruvanarayana, Congress|
|Bangalore Rural||DK Suresh, Congress|
|Bangalore North||DV Sadananda Gowda, BJP|
|Bangalore Central||PC Mohan, BJP|
|Bangalore South||Vacant after Ananth Kumar’s death in 2018|
|Chikkaballapur||Veerappa Moily, Congress|
|Kolar||KH Muniyappa, Congress|
|Buldhana||Jadhav Prataprao Ganpatrao, Shiv Sena|
|Akola||Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao, BJP|
|Amravati||Adsul Anandrao Vithoba, Shiv Sena|
|Hingoli||Rajeev Shankarrao Satav, Congress|
|Nanded||Ashok Shankarrao Chavan, Congress|
|Parbhani||Jadhav Sanjay (Bandu) Haribhau, Shiv Sena|
|Beed||Pritam Gopinathrao Munde, BJP|
|Osmanabad||Gaikwad Ravindra Vishwanath, Shiv Sena|
|Latur||Dr. Sunil Baliram Gaikwad, BJP|
|Solapur||Sharad Bansode, BJP|
|Inner Manipur||Thokchom Meinya, Congress|
|Bargarh||Prabas Kumar Singh, BJD|
|Sundargarh||Jual Oram, BJP|
|Bolangir||Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, BJD|
|Kandhamal||Pratyusha Rajeshwari Singh, BJD|
|Aska||Ladu Kishore Swain, BJD|
|Tiruvallur||Dr. P. Venugopal, AIADMK|
|Chennai North||TG Venkatesh Babu, AIADMK|
|Chennai South||J Jayavardhan, AIADMK|
|Chennai Central||SR Vijayakumar, AIADMK|
|Sriperumbudur||KN Ramachandran, AIADMK|
|Kancheepuram||K Maragatham, AIADMK|
|Arakkonam||G Hari, AIADMK|
|Vellore||B. Senguttuvan., AIADMK|
|Krishnagiri||K Ashok Kumar, AIADMK|
|Dharmapuri||Anbumani Ramadoss, PMK|
|Tiruvannamalai||Vanaroja R, AIADMK|
|Arani||V Elumalai, AIADMK|
|Villupuram||Rajendran S., AIADMK|
|Kallakurichi||K. Kamaraj, AIADMK|
|Salem||V Pannerselvam, AIADMK|
|Namakkal||PR Sundaram, AIADMK|
|Erode||S Selvakumara Chinnayan, AIADMK|
|Nilgiris||C Gopalakrishnan, AIADMK|
|Coimbatore||P Nagarajan, AIADMK|
|Pollachi||C Mahendran, AIADMK|
|Dindigul||M Udhayakumar, AIADMK|
|Karur||M Thambidurai, AIADMK|
|Perambalur||RP Marutharajaa, AIADMK|
|Cuddalore||A Arunmozhithevan, AIADMK|
|Chidambaram||M Chandrakasi, AIADMK|
|Mayiladuthurai||RK Bharathi Mohan, AIADMK|
|Nagapattinam||Dr K Gopal, AIADMK|
|Thanjavur||K Parasuraman, AIADMK|
|Sivaganga||PR Senthilnathan, AIADMK|
|Madurai||R Gopalakrishnan, AIADMK|
|Theni||R Parthipan, AIADMK|
|Virudhunagar||Radhakrishnan T., AIADMK|
|Ramanathapuram||Anwhar Raajhaa, AIADMK|
|Thoothukkudi||Jeyasingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee.J, AIADMK|
|Tenkasi||M Vasanthi, AIADMK|
|Kanniyakumari||Pon Radhakrishnan, BJP|
|Nagina||Yashwant Singh, BJP|
|Amroha||Kanwar Singh Tanwar, BJP|
|Bulandshahr||Bhola Singh, BJP|
|Aligarh||Satish Kumar Gautam, BJP|
|Hathras||Ranjan Kumar Diwakar, BJP|
|Mathura||Hema Malini, BJP|
|Agra||Ram Shankar Katheria, BJP|
|Fatehpur Sikri||Chaudhary Babulal, BJP|
|Jalpaiguri||Bijoy Chandra Barman, Trinamool|
|Darjeeling||SS Ahluwalia, BJP|
|Raiganj||Md Salim, CPI(M)|
|Puducherry||R Radhakrishnan, AINRC|