In the Assam government’s biggest outreach programme for Muslims, Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday will meet around 150 intellectuals from the community to hold a detailed discussion on population control policy. Posters have come up across the state, especially in the largest city of Guwahati.
The delegation would be further divided into eight subgroups to focus on several important issues and recommendations will be sought from them relating to the financial inclusion of women, their health, education and self-help groups.
CM Sarma told CNN-News18, “Assam has a population of about 37% minorities. The condition of most part of this percentage of the population is of the deprived and uneducated lot. The state could have been much higher in the economic and social parameters in all these years. You cannot blame the women. They are under immense pressure from the family, however, it is time for them to show resistance and as a society, we need to carve a path for their empowerment.”
Sarma’s government has decided to provide free education up to graduation for girl students belonging to the minority community.
A resolution has already been passed in the Assam assembly to go ahead with the two children policy and Sarma has interacted with the youth to get them on board. At least on two occasions, he has held a meeting with both the factions of the All Assam Minority Student Union.
Another meeting to get everybody on board will follow in the coming days when the Sarma will interact with various social organisations to seek a consensus on the population control policy.
The union government has been contemplating on bringing the national population bill - the agenda backed by the demands made by its ideological mentors RSS.
Sarma, who enjoys the confidence of not just the top BJP leadership but also the RSS, is said to have been given a nod to take this up in Assam and he would like to do it by “taking the community along rather than trying to bulldoze any bill in the assembly using the majority route.”
“I will reach out to the community for their empowerment, while I still stand firm with my ideology,” Sarma said.
While the Assam government is facing resistance from political parties like Congress on the issue, it is Muslim dominant party AIUDF, which has agreed to look into the matter.
Sarma said, “They can all call me names and accuse me of targeting a particular community. I do not mince my words, yes my government has done what is logical. Empowering Muslim women is on top of my government’s priority.”
A fortnight ago, the Assam government announced that it would gradually implement the two children policy, and violators would not be able to contest any local or panchayat elections and eligible for government jobs. In case they are already employed with a government job, they would be sacked.
Besides, they would also be deprive of the state government schemes like Arunoday and Chief Minister Awas Yojana to name a few. The state assembly had passed the ‘Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam’ in September 2017.