Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on 19 June announced that the state government will gradually implement a two-child policy for availing benefits under specific schemes.
The Assam chief minister stated that the proposed population control policy will, however, not be applicable in all the schemes in Assam immediately as many of the benefits are offered by the union government.
The chief minister said, “There are some schemes for which we cannot impose the two-child policy, like availing free admission in schools and colleges, or houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana.” However, he said that in the case of some schemes, say if a housing scheme is launched by the state government, the two-child norm can be introduced. Slowly in later stages, the population norm will come in every state government scheme.”
The newly-elected Assam chief minister commented on the opposition targeting him on the size of his parents’ family and said that there is no point in talking about what our parents did.
The Assam chief minister said, “There is no point in talking about what our parents did or other people did in the 1970s. The opposition is saying these strange things and pushing us back to the 70s.”
Assam Chief Minister Sarma, notably, belongs to a family of five brothers.
Earlier on 10 June, Sarma had spoken about recent evictions in three districts and urged the minority community to adopt a ‘decent family planning policy’ for population control to reduce poverty, which leads to shrinking of living space and consequent land encroachment.
Sarma had blamed the immigrant Muslim community for having large families, drawing sharp reactions from various quarters, including the AIUDF having a strong base in the community.
A population policy is already in place in Assam. In 2019, the previous BJP government had decided that those with more than two children would not be eligible for government jobs from January 2021. This was a follow-up to a resolution passed by the Assembly in 2017 on the Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam.
This policy listed two key norms for government employment linked to population growth: Only candidates with two children or less will be eligible for government jobs; government servants shall strictly follow the two-child norm to serve as role models for society. Also, according to the Assam Panchayat (Amendment) Act, 2018, those contesting panchayat polls cannot have more than two children.