GUWAHATI: Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Saturday lashed out against Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed for saying that a blue lungi will be exhibited at the 'Miya Museum' which he has demanded be set up at the precincts of Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra here and said he will be sent to jail if BJP returns to power in the coming state poll.
Sarma, a senior BJP leader of the Northeast, also hit out at the Congress for "eyeing" the Kalakshetra since the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam.
Ahmed had created controversy earlier this month by demanding that a 'Miya Museum' be set up in the precincts of the Kalakshetra, a place dedicated to Vaishnavite culture, after a standing committee of Assam assembly proposed the setting up of a 'Char-Chapori' (riverine) Museum.
The 'Miya Museum', Ahmed had said, would exhibit the culture and traditions of the Bengali Muslims of erstwhile East Bengal who have settled in the riverine areas of lower and cenral Assam.
"Ahmed when asked what could be exhibited in the Miya Musuem had the audacity to say blue lungis. He will not be forgiven for making such a statement which is an insult to our revered Vaishnav gurus Sankardeva and Madhavdeva", Sarma told a press conference here.
The minister said that the MLA will not be spared if the BJP returns to power in the elections.
"He will be sent to jail if he does not apologise publicly. This is a commitment I am making to the people of Assam," Sarma said.
Asked why the NDA government in the state will wait till after the elections and not deal with the Congress MLA now, Sarma retorted "If we do so now, he (Ahmed) will get a few more votes in the assembly elections and we do not want him to get that advantage".
He said, "After he (Ahmed) said this I could not sleep the whole night. His place is in the jail where he will definitely go."
The men in the riverine areas usually wear blue checked lungis (a sarong like garment wrapped around the waist).
"We would have understood if he had said that the Char Chapori (riverine) museum would exhibit fishing equipment, fishing nets, music and the riverine culture of the fishermen. But using the word 'lungi' in connection with the Kalakshetra cannot be accepted in any way... The Assamese are very sensitive about both Sankardeva and Madhavdeva," Sarma asserted.
Another Congress MLA Kamalakhya De Purkayastha has now demanded that a 'Bengali Museum' be set up inside the Kalakshetra.
Referring to it, Sarma said he has noticed that the Congress is eyeing the Kalakshetra since the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act when it was damaged.
"Now these insensitive demands are being made...Anybody with a little knowledge of Assam's culture and traditions will not make such demands or statements.
"Any Assamese will not demand that a photograph or idol of Devi Kamakhya, representing the Shakti cult, be put up inside the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, a repository of Vaishanav culture and traditions," he said.
Sarma said it is unfortunate that such "insensitive statements" are coming from the Congress in which he had started his political career and spent his youth.
Sarma had been a minister in the Tarun Gogoi government before he defected to BJP.
Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra is a cultural institution set up as part of the Assam Accord and named after the medieval reformer saint.