Of all the 5 states that are going to polls this year, Assam seems to be the hardest one to predict. It is the only state that will be having a direct contest between BJP and the Congress. The BJP is looking to get back to their winning ways after facing a drubbing in Delhi and Bihar last year. The Congress party has failed to register a single victory since LS 2014. That is why this election will have a national impact. Lets find out who is ahead…….
PARTIES and ALLIANCES
NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (NDA)
Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)
BJP has been contesting elections in Assam since 1985 without much of a success. They managed to win only 5/126 seats in 2011 despite contesting in over 120 seats. However, they received a moral boost when Narendra Modi became India’s PM candidate for 2014. In LS 2014, BJP won 7/14 seats in the state followed by a victory in local municipal polls in February 2015. This established BJP as the main challenger of Congress who were ruling the state for the past 15 years without having a strong opposition. The BJP has declared Sarbananda Sonowal, the incumbent union sports minster as its CM candidate. An ex-AASU leader, Sarba is known for his clean image and oratory skills. He joined BJP in 2010. Unlike Congress, BJP has been able to produce young leaders like Kamakhya Tasha and Rameshwar Teli (both are MP’s now). The BJP got a shot in the arm when Himanta Biswa Sharma, former minister, a member of INC and a master strategist joined them in 2015. Himanta had a name for being an efficient minister. He is the most followed politician from North East in social media. Other veteran leaders include Bijoya Chakravarty, Rajen Gohain, Ramen Deka, Kabindra Purakayastha, etc.
Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)
Formed by students leaders after a 6 year long Assam Agitation, AGP came to power in the state with a resounding majority in 1985 and again in 1996. Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was a household name and became one of the most popular leaders of the country. However it didn’t live up to the people’s expectation and was never voted back to power after 2001. Its popularity declined due to lack of new faces in the party and only managed to win 10/126 seats in 2011. However its alliance with BJP might bring the party back on track. It is currently being led by Atul Bora.
Bodo People’s Front (BPF)
The Bodo insurgency ended in 2003 which led to the formation of Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) compromising 4 districts of Assam. Most of the insurgents surrendered and floated a party called BPF under leadership of Hagrama Mohilary. The party has been ruling the council for the past 12 years. It also manged to win 12/126 seats in 2011, all of them in the Bodo belt. It has a habit of aligning with the party ruling at the centre. It was with Congress from 2006-14.
The BJP has tied up with organisations representing various ethnic communities like Tiwa, Rabha, etc and has given tickets to various leaders of these forums.
SEATS: BJP 90, AGP 24, BPF 12
INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS (INC)
Like any other state Congress has ruled Assam for most of the time. It has been in power now for over 15 years since 2001 under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi, who is now the longest-serving CM of the state. However it faced a major jolt in 2014 when it won only 3/14 LS seats. It has also faced dissidence since last 3 years, as a result of which Himanta, one of their most popular leader joined the BJP. It also faces a huge anti-incumbency of 15 years. Congress will be banking on its strong organisational network and minority vote bank to ensure victory in the upcoming polls. State president and former mnister Anjan Dutta will co-lead the party along with Tarun Gogoi. Other party faces include Gautom Roy, Ripun Bora, Rockybul Hussain, etc. They will contest in 122 seats this time.
All Bodo Student’s Union and UPPA is backing Congress this time. Congress will leave 4 seats in the Bodo belt for UPPA candidates and have friendly contests in a number of constituencies.
SEATS: INC 122, UPPA 4
ALL INDIA UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT (AIUDF)
AIUDF was formed the day when the IMDT Act was struck down by Supreme Court. The party is seen as a representative of the Bangladeshi immigrants that have illegally settled in Assam. It became the principal opposition in Assam assembly winning 18 seats in 2011 and continued their impressive form in 2014, winning 3 seats (equal to Congress). They have taken away a large chunk of INC’s minority votes because of which the latter is worried. It is led by the multi-millionaire perfume baron Maulana Badruddin Ajmal. It will contest in 65 seats this time.
New parties like LDP will have some influence in urban areas. The left front has become weak over the years. Trinamool BJP and AGP(regional) are likely to cause some damages in the prospects of their respective parent parties
Lets see how these parties will fare in different regions across the state
BARAK VALLEY (SOUTH ASSAM)
TOTAL SEATS: 15
DISTRICTS: Karimganj(5), Cachar(7), Hailakandi(3)
The Cachar district is dominated by Congress dynasties. BJP is likely to gain in seats with Hindu majority like Ratabari, Silchar, etc. Battle in Muslim majority Hailakandi will be between Congress and AIUDF. Barak Valley was the only region where BJP won seats pre-2011.
LOWER ASSAM (WESTERN ASSAM)
TOTAL SEATS: 47
DISTRICTS: Dhubri(7), Barpeta(8), Bongaigaon(3), Goalpara(4), Kamrup(6), Kamrup Metro(4), Nalbari(3), Baksa(3), Chirang(2), Udalguri(4), Kokrajhar(3)
Perhaps the most diverse region of all. Lower Assam has a large Muslim population, mainly in districts of Barpeta, Dhubri and Kamrup where AIUDF has made inroads. BJP’s support base is restricted to Guwahati region, Kamrup and Nalbari. INC is the only party to have a presence all over the region. There are 12 seats lying in the 4 districts of BTC where BPF is strong.
TOTAL SEATS: 11
DISTRICTS: Darrang(3), Sonitpur(8)
Though this region has the smallest number of seats, it is the hardest one to predict. All the parties have made a blunder in ticket distribution regarding this region. People are not happy.
CENTRAL ASSAM and HILLS
TOTAL SEATS: 19
DISTRICTS: Morigaon(3), Nagaon(11), Dima Hasao(1), Karbi Anglong(4)
Nagaon is the home district of Prafulla Mahanta, Badruddin Ajmal and INC leader Rockybul Hussain but it is the BJP which is gaining here. Consolidation of Tiwa votes is also heping them to win 2 seats in Morigaon. Congress and AIUDF will win most of the minority dominated seats. As of now, Congress has an edge in the hill districts but BJP is not far behind.
UPPER ASSAM (EASTERN ASSAM)
TOTAL SEATS: 34
DISTRICTS: Golaghat(4), Jorhat(6), Sibsagar(6), Lakhimpur(4), Dhemaji(2), Dibrugarh(7), Tinsukia(5)
4 communities that dominate this region are Brahmins, Ahoms, Chutiyas and Tea Tribes. The Ahoms and Tea tribes usually supported the Congress but that changed in 2014 when they voted for BJP quite overwhelmingly and the trend is likely to continue but not in a huge manner. Brahmins voted for AGP and now it seems BJP would get an advantage of this. Another tribe called Mishing is a decisive factor in Lakhimpur district. Both the CM candidates, Tarun Gogoi and Sarba Sonowal will contest from Jorhat district.
TOTAL SEATS: 126
NO. of DISTRICTS: 27
BJP+AGP+BPF (NDA) 49+9+9 = 67 (+/-5)
INC+UPPA 38+2 = 40 (+/-5)
AIUDF 18 (+/-4)
Ind/Others 1 (+/-3)
It seems BJP has the edge at moment but the results might tilt in favour of Congress by next month, you never know. AIUDF’s seat share is unlikely to change much. If this prediction comes true then Congress will be losing their lone bastion in the country and become more weak.
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Originally published here : https://theopinionmaker.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/analysing-assam-126/
(Republished here with Authors permission)