BJP set to return to power in Assam with fewer seats

BJP and Congress Flag Poster
BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Guwahati: The ruling BJP-led alliance is set to make a comeback in Assam in the first Assembly election after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was enacted with the declaration of results on Sunday, although winning less number of seats compared to the 2016 polls.

The alliance has won or is leading so far in 72 seats (48 wins and 24 leads) out of the 126 constituencies of the state and 64 seats are needed to get a simple majority.

As per the latest results on the Election Commission website, the BJP won 35 seats and is leading in 22 others. Its ally, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), won eight seats and is leading in one, while the third constituency of the alliance, the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), bagged five seats and is leading in one.

On the other hand, the ‘Grand Alliance comprising the Congress, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and eight other parties has won 24 seats so far and is leading in 28 others.

The Congress bagged 15 seats and has made progress in another 16, while its partners All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won six and is leading in 10, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) won three and is leading in one, and the CPI(M) leading in one seat.

In 2016, the BJP became the single largest party with 60 MLAs, while its allies AGP and BPF had won 14 and 12 seats respectively. The ruling coalition also had the support of an Independent MLA.

Some of the prominent winners this time are Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, BJP state chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass, AGP president Atul Bora, Congress legislature party leader Debabrata Saikia and jailed anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi.

“The public has blessed us because of our good work,” Sonowal said.

He retained the Majuli seat by defeating Rajib Lochan Pegu of Congress by 43,192 votes. In 2016, he had won by 18,923 votes.

Winning the Jalukbari constituency in Guwahati for the fifth consecutive term by more than one lakh votes, Sarma said that the victory of the BJP is “protection of culture and civilisation” of the state.

The BJP, however, has not declared who will be the chief minister in the state even as speculations were rife that Sarma would head the next government.

The BJP had projected the then union minister Sonowal as its chief minister before the assembly polls during the 2016 elections, but this time the ruling party did not announce any name for the top post.

“I do not want to talk about this. Our parliamentary board will decide about it,” Sarma told reporters when asked if he would be the next chief minister.

A senior party leader, who wished to be anonymous, said, “People voted for us because they, particularly in the rural areas, were covered by various welfare schemes like housing, free gas cylinder electricity and Arunodai.”

The youths looked for assurance of job opportunities with state and central governments under the same political party, while the tea garden specific schemes won the votes there, the BJP leader said.

The opposition Congress raked up the CAA aggressively and packaged a promise to repeal the law as one of the five “guarantees” along with Rs 2,000 to each housewife, five lakh government jobs, 200 units of free electricity and Rs 365 minimum wage to tea workers.

The regional alliance by the newly floated Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal, whose genesis went back to the anti-CAA protests in 2019, made the controversial legislation their main poll plank.

However, the two opposition groupings failed to cash in on anti-CAA sentiment.

The BJP campaigned at the high pitch making the Congress’ alliance with the AIUDF one of its main planks. Each and every leader mentioned AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal and said this election was to protect the culture and civilisation of Assam.

Accepting the defeat, Congress state chief Ripun Bora tweeted, “I congratulate all the winning candidates of @INCAssam & #Mahajot. I courageously accept the verdict of the people. We fought till the end. I would also like to thank all those who supported me. But we will continue our fight for peace, democracy and secularism.”

Bora has stepped down from the post of state Congress chief and sent his resignation letter to the party’s national president Sonia Gandhi.

Political analyst Rajan Pandey said that Congress made a blunder in the selection of candidates and it is the main reasons for the victory of the NDA.

“The BJP also made mistakes in the first list, but they corrected it in the second and third lists by not taking any risk with candidates. Their allies AGP and UPPL also did well, but Congress’ ally AIUDF and BPF performed very poorly,” he added.

Atiqur Rahman Barbhuiya, a political analyst based in linguistically sensitive Barak valley, also said that poor selection of candidates has cost the Grand Alliance dearly.

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