Spiralling vegetable prices in Assam's largest city Guwahati has triggered a war of words between political opponents, with Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's blaming Miyas' for the escalating rates drawing sharp reactions from opposition parties.
While AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal said Miyas' have been hurt' by the CM's comment, Congress and other opposition parties sniffed a collusion between the BJP and the AIUDF in communal politics' ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.
Sarma, while responding to reporters' questions on high price of veggies in Guwahati, had said, "Vegetables are not priced so high in villages. Here the Miya vendors charge us more. Had it been Assamese vendors selling vegetables, they wouldn't have fleeced their own people."
"I will clear all the footpaths of Guwahati and I urge our Assamese people to come forward and start their businesses," he added.
Bengali-speaking Muslims are generally referred to as Miyas' in the state, with the community largely engaging in agricultural activities.
Reacting to Sarma's statement, Ajmal said such words are unbecoming of a chief minister, who is the head of a state, and the community has been feeling hurt and offended'.
"This is creating a communal divide. If it triggers any incident, the government and Himanta Biswa Sarma will be responsible for it," the Lok Sabha MP added.
Ajmal also maintained that the prices of vegetables are not controlled by the Miyas.
Urging the Assamese youth to take up agriculture, he added, We will welcome Assamese youth join in farming activities. But I don't think they will do it as it requires a lot of hard work.
Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah alleged that both Sarma and Ajmal are together in creating this Miya-Assamese' controversy to drive a communal divide between the people.
"As elections are coming closer, both of them want to divide the people along religious lines. BJP has failed to address core issues like unemployment, price rise, illegal migrants, etc. and to divert attention, they are indulging in such tactics."
Raijor Dal president and MLA Akhil Gogoi also claimed that such communal statements by Sarma was a ploy to take away people's attention from important issues.
"There are three main reasons for such communal politics. The BJP wants to divert attention from the draft delimitation proposal as the opposition has been able to lay bare before the people that the document doesn't espouses the cause of the indigenous people.
"It also wants to sail through the elections through religious polarisation as it had failed to deliver on its promises. And also, to hide rift within old and new BJP members," the Sivasagar legislator added.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Hemanta Phukan also alleged communal politics is a tactic by the BJP to hide its failures.
"The BJP has failed the people and to hide it, when elections are approaching, they are taking recourse to communal politics. Ajmal is also helping them in it. I urge the government to indulge in politics of development as people will reject such communal tactics," he added.
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