Assam Elections Phase Two: BJP Gets On A Strong Wicket In Majority Of 39 Seats

Assam Elections Phase Two: BJP Gets On A Strong Wicket In Majority Of 39 SeatsAssam goes for phase 2 of Assembly elections tomorrow
Snapshot
  • Phase two of assembly elections in Assam would take place in 39 seats spread across 13 districts of Barak Valley, central Assam and parts of lower Assam.

A few surprises may be in store for election analysts and pollsters when the results of the ongoing Assembly elections in Assam are announced on 2 May as far as the 39 seats going to the polls tomorrow (April 1) are concerned.

The general consensus among pollsters is that since a large proportion of the 39 seats are in Muslim-majority districts and the Muslim voters are united behind the Congress-AIUDF alliance this time, the BJP will pick up a third of the seats in the second phase of polls.

The 39 seats are spread over Barak Valley and central as well as parts of lower Assam. And Barak Valley, with its 15 seats, holds the key in this second phase.

Apart from the three districts of Karimganj, Hailakandi and Cachar in the Barak Valley, the remaining 24 Assembly seats where polling will be held tomorrow are spread over the tribal Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong districts, and the districts of Kamrup, Nalbari, Udalguri, Darrang, Morigaon, Nagaon and Hojai districts.

Of these, Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Darrang, Karimganj and Hailakandi are Muslim-majority districts and it had been assumed that the BJP will fare very poorly in these districts.

However, there are a substantial number of seats in all these districts where Muslims are not in a majority. That’s because Muslims--and it’s mostly Bangladeshi-origin Muslims in these districts--tend to be concentrated in some areas only.

This is what holds out hope for the BJP, which stepped up its campaign and pulled out all stops to win the seats where Muslims are not in a majority.

The BJP conducted an intensive carpet-bombing campaign where the party’s top campaigners--Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah--held roadshows and addressed rallies.

A host of Union ministers and the BJP’s key strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma also crisscrossed Barak Valley and central Assam to campaign for local candidates.

A huge number of BJP workers were deployed on the ground to carry out door-to-door campaigns, while the candidates were asked to address small street-corner gatherings and reach out to individual and influential voters.

The BJP stepped up its offensive against the Congress-AIUDF alliance and highlighted the dangers inherent in the AIUDF, a party formed to protect the interests of illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, from coming to power.

The aggressive campaign by the BJP started showing results and according to ground reports, a consolidation of Hindu voters commenced.

The consolidation of Muslim votes behind the Congress-AIUDF alliance also triggered a counter-consolidation of Hindu voters. This is expected to help the BJP.

What will work against the Congress-AIUDF alliance is poor selection of candidates in some of the seats and Congress votes not being transferred en bloc (or at least in huge numbers) to the AIUDF in six constituencies.

Similarly, Congress and AIUDF votes are also unlikely to get transferred to the CPI-M candidate (the CPI-M is part of the Congress-AIUDF led alliance) in Rangia seat where the BJP is strong.

What will also benefit the BJP is the presence of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)-sponsored Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and the Raijor Dal (RD) in 22 constituencies.

These AJP and RD candidates will cut into the votes of the Congress-AIUDF led alliance and will split the anti-BJP votes, thus benefiting the saffron party.

District-wise outlook

  • Of the five seats in Karimganj district, the BJP is expected to win Ratabari and Patharkandi, and has a good chance of winning the Karimganj North seat.

  • The BJP has slim chances of winning any of the three seats in Hailakandi district.

  • Of the seven seats in Cachar district, the BJP seems poised to win five and has very good chances in the remaining two seats of Udharbond and Lakhipur.

  • The BJP’s chances of bagging the five seats in the hills districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong are bright.

  • Of the two seats in Kamrup district going to the polls tomorrow, the BJP stands a good chance of winning both.

  • While the Nalbari seat seems to be a sure win for the BJP, the breakup of the BJP’s alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) is expected to cost the saffron party dear in Panery seat of Udalguri district. Of the two other seats in Udalguri district, the BPF is strong in one and BJP ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) seems poised to win one

  • Of the four seats in Darrang district, the BJP is most likely to win two (Mangaldoi and Sipajhar).

  • The BJP’s internal assessments say that two of the three seats each in Morigaon and Nagaon districts will go the BJP way.

  • The BJP is also confident of winning the Hojai and Lumding seats in Hojai district while the third seat in the district is most likely to be bagged by the AIUDF

While the Congress erred in declaring its list of candidates late, its star campaigners also failed to make much of an impact. Despite the optics, the Gandhi siblings (Rahul and Priyanka) were lacklustre as campaigners and failed to draw huge crowds.

The other senior leaders brought in by the Congress and its allies--Mallikarjun Kharge, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupen Baghel, (former Madhya Pradesh CM) Kamal Nath, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Tejashwi Yadav and Kanhaiya Kumar--also failed to create much of an impact.

The BJP’s manifesto where it has listed out flood control measures and its vision for the economic, social and cultural development of the state, and also the many steps it will take to preserve the culture and identity of the Assamese and other indigenous communities of the state, seems to have hit the right notes in the state.

While stepping up its campaign in these 39 seats, the BJP also launched a publicity blitzkrieg highlighting the many achievements of the BJP-led alliance government in the state over the past five years.

Thus, when the results of the elections are announced on 2 May, pollsters may be surprised to find that the BJP has won not just the eleven seats they had given to the party, but more than twice that number.

Poll facts:

Polling in 39 seats spread across 13 districts of Barak Valley, central Assam and parts of lower Assam

Voters: 73.44 lakh

Polling stations: 10,592

Parties in the fray: BJP is contesting 34 seats, the AGP in six and the UPPL in three. Of these, the BJP is engaged in a ‘friendly fight’ with the AGP in two seats and with the UPPL in two seats.

The Congress is contesting in 27 seats, the AIUDF in eight and the BPF in four.

The AJP is contesting 17 seats while the RD is in the fray in five seats.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

Comments

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.