GUWAHATI: Do you know what does the Assamese word jati means? It means “Hindu”, says Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma; a statement that would have given a heart attack to first Assamese lexicographer Hemchandra Barua.
Sarma made the statement, when a senior national media journalist asked him why did the BJP that wrested power from the Congress in Assam promising safeguard to “jati, mati, bheti (community, land and base)”, betrayed the people of the state by supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 against the wish of the people.
“The BJP manifesto in the 2016 elections had lapses. It failed to elaborate on who is the jati. We didn’t mean Assamese chauvinism. We meant Hindu. And, people misconstrued it to be the community. It will not happen this time. We are preparing a manifesto where everything will be crystal clear. There will be no iota of doubt,” Sarma said.
And, when he realised that he made a statement a little too communal in a secular country, he went on explain: “Hindu to us does not mean only those who go to temples or naamghar (Vaishnavite community prayer hall). My father was a Hindu, but I did not see him going to the temple in the last 20 years of his life. We use the word Hindu to define any nationalist irrespective of his/her religion, to those who would stand by Bharat when a conflict arises between Bharat and Bhagwat Gita.”
“One who stands by India is the one who believes in the 6000-year-old Indian civilization, and he is a Hindu to us. Whether he/she goes to mosque, church, gurdwara etc for worship, it doesn’t matter,” Sarma added.
Sarma was interacting with a gathering after the release of his book Eta Xopunor Pom Khedi here on Wednesday evening.
He went on to add that for the BJP, India is the only Hindu civilization in the world and hence, it would embrace any Hindu from any part of the world irrespective of the CAA. “It will be clear when the CAA rules will be formulated,” Sarma said.