Assam polls: Bicycles outpace ‘BMW’

Prasanta Mazumdar

GUWAHATI: Once the best bait to lure voters in Assam, BMW seems to be outrun by bicycles this election in Assam.

For those visualising the German cars, BMW is a locally-used acronym for ‘blanket-money-wine’. The various political parties in Assam have invariably doled out the three things to woo voters in the state’s especially tea and minority Muslim belt over the years.

Constituting half of Assam’s total population, the two communities decide the fate of candidates in almost half of the state’s total 126 assembly segments. And if they could be easily lured through blanket, money and wine, it was because of their poverty and utter backwardness.

However, bicycles appear to be the flavour this season around. Recently, the police seized over 1,500 bicycles from public sector Statfed’s warehouse in central Assam’s Nagaon district.

And not just this, bicycles, purportedly procured under a scheme for schoolgirls, were also seized from several educational institutes in western Assam’s Sualkuchi, central Assam’s Morigaon and eastern Assam’s Tingkhang constituencies.

Apart from bicycles, hand-pumps are also on offer to lure voters in migrant Muslims-inhabited ‘char’ areas. A dozen hand-pumps were seized by the police from the residence of a panchayat president Nazira Begum, a Congress leader, on Saturday in central Assam’s Dhing area.

“Luring voters is a Congress culture,” said a leader of Asom Gana Parishad. “The seizures only go to substantiate this,” he added. The BJP also took a jab at the Congress on the issue. “The government (read Congress) is distributing bicycles in violation of the election code of conduct. So, we have requested the concerned district administrations to take necessary action,” BJP spokesman Vijay Kumar Gupta told Express. He said the party had also lodged a complaint with the EC.

The Congress has rubbished the charges.