Guwahati: The fear of deportation amongst the Muslims, especially Bengali-speaking Muslims, loom large in Assam. In the recent 2021 Assam Assembly elections, the Muslim voters turned up in very high numbers. The Muslims of Assam account for 35% of the total electorate which is a point of temptation for the political parties of Assam because they usually vote in the chunk as a whole. This year, it has been observed that the fear of being listed as a 'D' voter or doubtful voter, especially amongst the Bengali-speaking Muslims has been the driving factor for them coming out to cast their votes in very large numbers.
This trend can be observed by studying the voter turnout percentages of Muslim and non-muslim dominated constituencies and comparing them. The 34 Assam Assembly constituencies where Muslims are in majority showed an average of 84% voter turnout whereas, in the remaining 92 constituencies where Muslims are in minority, the voter turnout is only 79%. This shows that the Muslims in Assam are insecure about being identified by the Election commission as doubtful voters and disenfranchised.
In the 2021 Assam Assembly election, the average voter turnout was recorded as 82%. 10 Muslim-dominated constituencies showed an extremely high voter turnout of which 7 constituencies showed the voter turnout of 90% and above and the rest 3 should the voter turnout of 89%. Four of these constituencies were won by Congress and the rest six were won by AIUDF in the 2016 Assam Assembly elections.
In the 2016 election, the Muslim voter turnout (85%) was higher than in 2021. This can be attributed to the Modi wave, which in 2016 was at its peak as compared to 2021, leading to the polarization of votes resulting in Muslims casting their votes in high numbers.
The recent nationwide implementations of the CAA, which caused a massive stir in Assam, and the discourse around NRC have escalated the fear of being disenfranchised and ultimately deported amongst the Muslims in Assam.