Sushmita Dev and Dilip Paul.

In the general elections of 2014, Sushmita Dev successfully changed the direction of a strong Modi wave by defeating veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kabindra Purkayastha—Congress is hoping to repeat this stellar performance in 2021 Assam polls by the grace of rebel BJP leader Dilip Paul.

Ironically Silchar always witnesses a bipolar contest between Congress and BJP. But this time the situation has changed following the entry of Dilip who is contesting as an independent candidate.

BJP’s nominated candidate from Silchar Dipayan Chakraborty is no novice either. He has been dabbling into politics for the past 25 years. Though he is not a known face in political circles, despite this he holds an important place in BJP.

In West Bengal, all eyes are set on Nandigram where chief minister Mamata Banerjee is challenging her once upon a time confidante Suvendhu Adhikari who has now shifted to BJP.

Similarly, all eyes will be set on Silchar because the verdict will not only have an impact on the premier two national parties—BJP and Congress but at the same time, it will also decide the future political career of two leaders—Dr. Rajdeep Roy and Sushmita Dev.

Both Roy and Dev come from political families. Rajdeep’s father Bimalangshu Roy was an MLA from Silchar and Sushmita’s father Sontosh Mohan Dev needs no new introduction either.

Few factors will play an important role at Silchar. First and foremost is the outburst of rebel BJP leader Dilip Paul. Throughout his campaign trail, Dilip tried to win the hearts of his voters by playing the victim card.

How far his strategy will work, time alone can tell. But Dilip has been successful in robbing Dipayan of his sleep. At the same time, it also needs to be mentioned here that this is not for the first time that Dilip has invited trouble for himself.

Dilip was suspended from the party for allegedly conniving with Sontosh Mohan Dev in the Assembly election as he helped Bithika Dev win the election against Bimalangshu Roy.

Now, the obvious question that will be asked as to why the party took him back to the party fold and provided him the ticket for two Assembly elections.

This indicates the poor management skill of the Cachar BJP. To be very frank elections in India are no longer fought on the plank of development.

Almost each and every political party is now playing the religious card. By stitching an alliance with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of Badruddin Ajmal, Congress has taken a calculated risk.

Congress wants to regain its political ground in Muslim belts and accordingly, it chose to walk on this road.  The Hindus have always been a divided community.

Till the advent of Modi, the minorities were satisfied with the fact that BJP can never come to power on its own strength. It will never be able to win a brute majority. Rather the lotus brigade will always have to run a coalition government.

However, today the situation has changed completely across the country. BJP is ruling the roost and it has pulled down the curtain of the oldest party of India.

At Silchar, the votes will be divided into three parts. One section will not look at the candidate. Rather it will look at the party and will vote for the candidate concerned.

Another section will be voting on religious lines and the fence-sitters who represent the third strata of voters will exercise their franchise after giving serious thought to each and every issue. This section will be closely watched because they are the silent voters and in every election, it’s the silent voters who turn out to be the deciding factor.

Dilip Paul has raised the issue of syndicate raj which he alleges has thrived in Barak Valley under the patronage of many prominent leaders from the Cachar BJP.

It will not be proper to name anyone because we journalists are slightly different from the political class. We represent the fourth pillar and we represent the voice of the voiceless.

Today, BJP is being targeted for trying to polarize the political climate of India. Whenever this allegation is hurled at BJP, one more question impinges on our minds.

In the garb of secularism who tried to appease the minorities. Why till now the liberal-minded parties of India are refraining from discussing the findings of the Sachar committee report that clearly brought the pathetic plight of minorities especially the Muslims to the fore.

The subcontinent has always seen identity politics. Before the advent of Modi, India witnessed the domination of Nehru—Gandhi clan in Indian politics. The situation has changed these days.

Taking a leaf out of the book of Indira Gandhi, Modi is emulating her footsteps by placing himself above his party. Modi has attained a larger-than-life status for BJP.

In elections after elections, BJP is banking on his brand and undoubtedly the party is reaping the benefits. Cachar BJP too hopes that Dipayan will sail through because he has a saviour in Modi.

Is this trend good for India? Is it good for our democracy? Let’s try to find out the answers to these questions. Elections take place every five years. This is our turn to seek the report card from our representatives.

Sadly, we flow with the tide and get ourselves involved in voting percentage. Barak Valley has so many burning issues. Cachar Paper Mill is still under lock and key.

Silchar Medical College & Hospital (SMCH) is still waiting for the neurology and cardiology departments. The youth of Barak Valley have been deprived of government jobs.

Our prospective candidates are talking about dubious things. Dilip is trying to play the victim card, BJP veteran Kabindra is upset because his son Kanad didn’t get the ticket. Silchar MP Dr. Rajdeep Roy is talking about the Congress-AIUDF alliance. But he is silent on his own track record.

The vital issues have been put on the backburner. Dubious issues from religion to unholy alliance between political parties have found mention in speeches of our revered politicians.

This time personal ambitions of respective leaders reigned supreme and it has hijacked the burning issues of Silchar. In one word—this election has turned out to be another missed opportunity to make Silchar a better place to live in.

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