The Election Commission of India announced the schedule of upcoming assembly elections for four states and one union territory yesterday, and as a result model code of conduct came into force immediately. The announcement by the poll panel came as a surprise for most political parties in Assam, as it was expected that dates will be announced in the first week of March, like the last time. This sudden announcement ahead of anticipation meant cold water was poured on the plans of many politicians to announce to schemes ahead of polls. But it didn’t deter one Congress MLA in Assam, who announced as many as 150 schemes just hours before the EC held the press conference in Delhi to announce the election dates.
Sherman Ali, the Congress MLA from Baghbar in Assam, got active as soon as media started reporting that the poll panel will hold a press conference at 4.30 PM on Friday to announce the dates. He hurriedly arranged to lay the foundation stone for a record 150 different projects in his constituency, and he managed to complete the same before the EC press conference was started in Delhi.
MLA Sherman Ali achieved this unique feat by laying the foundation stone for all the 150 schemes in one just place, a High School in his constituency. The MLA arranged to print banners for all the 150 schemes, got them hung on ropes on the ground of the school, and got them covered with pieces of white clothes. After reaching the school, he kept unveiling the banners by removing the cover on them one by one, thus launching the record number of schemes within a couple of hours.
All the schemes that he has announced are worth around Rs 50 crore in total. The schemes include a cultural complex, gram panchayat office buildings, residences for female TET teachers, social forestry schemes etc.
“Today we have laid foundation stones of 150 projects in the Baghbar constituency. I hope, the proper implementation of these projects will boost the development of the constituency,” Sherman Ali Ahmed said while talking to media after the event.
While Sherman Ali worked in a war footing to avoid the model code of conduct to announce schemes, his candidature is not confirmed yet. He has been one of the most controversial MLAs in Assam, who had started a massive controversy by demanding a ‘Miya Museum’ in the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati. And media had asked what he proposes to keep in the ‘Miya Museum’, he had suggested things like blue lungi and green saree, typically worn by Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam. It may be noted that the word Miya is used to refer to Bangladeshi Muslims living in Assam, who immigrated into India both before and after the partition.
The poll dates came as surprise not only for the Congress MLA, but also for the BJP, as none other than prime minister Narendra Modi had speculated that EC will announce the dates in March. Addressing a rally at Silapathar in Assam on 22nd February, PM Modi had said that the dates for the Assam Assembly election are likely to be announced by the Election Commission of India in the first week of March. He had made this prediction based on the fact that in 2016, the dates were announced on 4th March.