BJP leader Queen Oja, who won Gauhati seat, hopes her victory will inspire more women from Assam Movement to join politics

BJP leader Queen Oja, the only woman politician to win the Lok Sabha polls 2019 from Assam, says that her victory would inspire women workers of the Assam Movement to participate in the socio-political change of India

Kangkan Acharyya May 29, 2019 17:05:46 IST
BJP leader Queen Oja, who won Gauhati seat, hopes her victory will inspire more women from Assam Movement to join politics
  • Queen Oja became the first woman leader of the Assam movement to enter the Lok Sabha after winning the Gauhati seat in the 2019 polls

  • A scion of a business family, Oja was among the several Assamese women who supported the protesters in a myriad of roles

  • On the issue of the National Register of Citizens which is being updated till now, Oja said that it is a dream that is soon going to come true

  • The sexagenarian woman politician is a familiar name in Assam, because of her rather long and active involvement in Assamese identity politics

BJP leader Queen Oja, the only woman politician to win the Lok Sabha polls 2019 from Assam, says that her victory would inspire women workers of the Assam Movement to participate in the socio-political change of India.

She also says that India is moving in the right direction under the leadership of Narendra Modi and hopes that millions of women across the country who want to be the part of the change, but are being pushed aside by patriarchal social norms, would be encouraged by her victory.

"I have met thousands of women who actively participated in the Assam Movement. But most of them lost their footing in public life after the movement was over. Many felt that they were not given required importance in the political field to continue their social roles. They are now happy that one among them has got nomination from a national party and won,” said the first time Member of Parliament.

BJP leader Queen Oja who won Gauhati seat hopes her victory will inspire more women from Assam Movement to join politics

File image of Queen Oja. Twitter@oja_queen.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the North East, four were won by women and three of them won as candidates of the BJP. Oja won the Gauhati Lok Sabha seat in Assam.

The sexagenarian woman politician is a familiar name in Assam, because of her rather long and active involvement in Assamese identity politics.

While campaigning for her, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had said in a public rally, “Oja is not one who landed in politics today. She has all along been there right from the days of the Assam Movement. In those days she would protest in the streets and as well as cook food for the volunteers."

Oja was pitted against Congress party candidate Bobeeta Sharma, a film maker and daughter-in-law of a veteran Congress leader. Oja won with a margin of 3,45,000 votes.

Significantly, the six-year-long historic Assam Movement that that swelled in 1979 demanding detection and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam could survive so long not only because of the concerted effort of indigenous tribes and ethnic groups but also for the synergetic relationship between men and women who were part of the movement.

It is said that the movement continued not only on the streets but also in the households. Women played myriad roles right from a nurse to a picketer in the movement.

"We would nurse the injured activists of the movement, cook food for them and also picket on the streets along with them. We even supplied home cooked food to the jailed activists," she says.

The movement saw gross atrocities against activists involved in the struggle leaving 855 youths from different caste creed and religion dead and a few thousands grievously injured.

Soon after the Assam Movement ended, the pedestal of public life was taken over by men and most women activists were shoved aside to anonymity.

"A few of us remained glued to public life despite our personal responsibilities and continued to work for the development of the society as a whole and women empowerment," she said.

Being a scion of a business family, Oja also took part in her family business apart from delivering her duties as a senior leader in the Asom Gana Parishad, a political outfit formed by the activists and leaders of the Assam Movement.

In the year 2011, Oja contested as a candidate of the Asom Gana Parishad from the Gauhati East constituency but lost to Congress.

Later, she joined the BJP and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls she became the common candidate of the BJP-AGP alliance and got elected.

Sharing her feeling about her new role she told Firstpost, "I am extremely proud to work under the visionary leadership of Modi. I will give my best to fulfill the wishes of the people who elected me."

When asked about the NDA meet held at the Central Hall of the Parliament recently in which Narendra Modi was elected as the leader of the co-alition she said, "His words were saintly. I could easily connect with them because in Assam we are brought up with the teachings of the Vaishnavite saint Shankardeva, who left for us a similar heritage of thought," she said.

Shankardeva was a 15th-16th Century social reformer in Assam who propounded the view, "Serve every soul as every soul is Rama". Modi evoked saint Ramkrishna Paramhamsa’s teaching “Jeev hi Shiv hai (In every soul rests Shiva)" at the NDA meet, and asked the NDA MPs to serve the nation through serving the creation.

When asked about her stand on the much-debated Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, tabled by the Centre, she said that her views are same as her party’s.

The bill, which lapsed after it failed to pass in the Rajya Sabha, aims to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis who fled from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh due to religious persecution, had met stiff resistance in Assam as it was seen as a violation of the Assam Accord.

Before the election, the BJP leaders in Assam assured the people that a solution formula to allay fears of the people was being worked out.

On the issue of the National Register of Citizens which is being updated till now, Oja said that it is a dream that is soon going to come true.

In January 2019, the Supreme Court ordered to publish the final draft NRC on 31 July 2019.

The NRC being a procedure mandated by the Assam Accord, Oja recollects the days after the Assam movement when she along with 20 other women leaders from Assam approached the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to speed up the process of implementing the Assam Accord.

"It was the year 1985. We came all the way from Assam to meet the prime minister. But we had no place to stay in Delhi. We had to wait until we got his appointment. Even the state guest house Assam Bhawan denied to give us place to stay. So, we somehow managed a dormitory in the Meghalaya Bhawan. But there too, we had no beds to sleep. So we bought few newspapers and laid them on the floor and made beds out of them," said Oja, who has now been allotted a plush room in the Assam House in Delhi as a Member of the Parliament.

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