In Assam, ‘Miya’ Poet Ashraful Hussain Turns Politician

‘Miya’ Poet Ashraful Hussain, against whom FIR was filed for poetry, is fighting elections from Chenga.

2 min read

Video Input: Anjana Dutta

Video Editor: Tridip K Mandal

In the third phase of the ongoing assembly elections in Assam 40 constituencies will go to the polls. Most of the seats are in lower Assam where the Congress-led ‘mahajot’ has an upper hand.

In this phase, the AIUDF, the second most important party in the alliance, has fielded Ashraful Hussain. At 27 years, he’s one of the youngest candidates in these assembly elections.

Ashraful is a ‘Miya’ or Bengali Muslim living in Assam. More than his age, it is his identity that will play a pivotal role in this election.

He quit his corporate job in Pune when the people of his community were enduring enormous hardships during the NRC process. Ashraful returned to help the poor, uneducated and underprivileged of the ‘Miya’ community, helping them traverse the maze of documentation needed in the NRC process.

Ashraful shot into limelight when he started writing poetry in his dialect, his poems spoke about what the community was going through, about their struggle for identity and citizenship.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ashraful in a bike rally while campaigning in Chenga.&nbsp;</p></div>

Ashraful in a bike rally while campaigning in Chenga. 

(Photo: Anjana Dutta)

I wrote a few lines in the dialect of the language that I speak at home. An FIR was filed against me. I got bail from the high court, but I am still suffering.
Ashraful Hussain AIUDF candidate, Chenga, Assam

Currently on bail, Ashraful is fighting elections from the Chenga constituency. His party AIUDF has a loyal voter base among Bengali Muslims, but Ashraful denies that he’s in politics only to represent a particular community.

I am not doing identity politics. I am doing rights-based politics. We are talking about people’s rights. I am talking about our constitutional rights. I am in politics for the deprived and the marginalised people.
Ashraful Hussain AIUDF candidate, Chenga, Assam

Ashraful couldn’t have asked for a relatively safer seat. Chenga has a majority Bengali Muslim population and the combined vote share of the Congress and the AIUDF in 2016 was almost 73%.

Though he’s fighting on an AIUDF ticket, his campaign is being crowdfunded through donations on ground and social media.

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