BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Assam – comprising Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and The United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) – looks set to sweep the assembly elections and return to power for a second consecutive term, becoming the first non-Congress party to do so.
The NDA is comfortably placed to form a government, leading in 75 of the 126 assembly seats. BJP is ahead in 56 seats, AGP in 11 and UPPL in 8 seats.
The Congress-led ‘Mahajut’, a rainbow coalition of 10 political parties, has failed to make much of an impact with many of the party heavyweights trailing. Assam Congress president Ripun Bora, who led the Front, has lost. Congress MLA and leader of opposition, Debabrata Saikia, is also trailing.
Assam BJP president Ranjeet Das has thanked the voters and called it “a win of the people of Assam”. “I would like to thank the people of Assam for the trust they have showed in us. I would like to assure everyone that we will continue to work for the people of Assam,” said Das.
Talking to reporters, Assam chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Counting is still underway, but it is clear that BJP is forming the government once again. This has been possible because of people’s cooperation.”
The two new political fronts – AJP and Raijor Dol – formed as a result of the anti-CAA movement, also fared badly with only one candidate, Akhil Gogoi, managing to win (from Sibsagar constituency). Gogoi has been in jail for over one and a half year, but he won the election without campaigning or visiting his constituency even once. President of AJP Lurin Jyoti Gogoi is trailing from both the constituencies he is contesting – Naharkatia and Duliajan.
The Congress is leading only in 29 seats, a marginal improvement from the 26 seats it won the last time. Its alliance partner, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), is leading in 14 seats and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) in one seat. All the BPF ministers and senior leaders are trailing.
Speaking to media, Assam Congress spokesperson Apurba Kumar Bhattacharjee termed the results “disappointing” and said the party will introspect before issuing a statement.
BJP makes a mark in new constituencies
The BJP has been able to sweep the upper Assam region, including seats which are traditional Congress strongholds. The prominent wins here include the tea tribe community dominated seat of Doomdooma and Nazira, which is the family bastion of former Assam chief minister Hiteshwar Saikia and currently held by his son Debabrata Saikia.
BJP’s Rupesh Gowala won in Doomdooma, defeating the incumbent Congress candidate Durga Bhumij.
Mayur Buragohain, who was earlier associated with the influential student organization, All Tai Ahom Students Union (ATASU), and a known loyalist of Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, had been preparing for the electoral battle of Nazira for the past one year.
Former minister in the Congress government, Ajanta Neog, who had joined the BJP last year, is set to win her traditional seat of Golaghat.
All the Congress turncoats, who contested on BJP ticket, are leading in their respective constituencies. Prominent among them are former minister Gautam Roy (Katigora), former Congress leaders- Diganta Kalita (Kamalpur), Jayanta Malla Buzarbaruah (Nalbari), Taranga Gogoi (Naharkatia) and Manab Deka (Lakhimpur).
Former Rajya Sabha MP and influential Bodo leader, UG Brahma, who had contested on a UPPL ticket, has won. Brahma is expected to get an important ministerial portfolio as part of the alliance.
Besides sweeping upper Assam, the NDA has managed convincing victories in Middle Assam, Lower Assam and Barak valley.
The results also show that the voters of the tea tribe community and tribal communities voted en masse for the BJP.
Congress strategy backfires
The Congress’s plan of a grand alliance to ensure consolidation of all the opposition votes, irrespective of religion, has failed in most constituencies. The party was not able to attract anti-CAA voters either.
“The Congress had expected a consolidation of all opposition votes, post the CAA agitation, and also an addition of all the votes belonging to the Bodo community as a result of relentless campaign by BPF chief Hagrama Mohiliary. However, things didn’t pan out the way Congress planned. Had their plan worked, BJP would have lost Dhekiajuli and Sootea seats,” said Sabita Devi, editor of Pratilipi Magazine.
“Congress was not able to convince people about an alternative and also didn’t raise the issue of Clause 6 and Constitutional safeguards for people of Assam. Even Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, in their campaigns and outreach, didn’t clarify their stand on this issue,” said Devi.