From the Controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, leaders exiting their parties, some personal attacks to Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’s), manhandling, the people of Assam witnessed it all during the three-phased Assembly Elections, which commenced on 27 April and concluded on 6 April, 2021.
The intense battle for 126-member Assembly constituencies started in early February when the national leaders of the BJP and Congress started visiting the poll-bound state. The election campaign was all about launching scathing attacks on each other.
On the one hand, the principal opposition Congress Party chose to make the draconian CAA, which is considered a sentiment in Assam, their election agenda, while on the other hand, the BJP leadership took shots at the Congress alliance with Badruddin Ajmal led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). Things got intense when Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal termed the Congreed-led Mahajot as “unholy”.
Talking about regional parties, Lurinjyoti Gogoi led Assam Jatiya Parishad and Akhil Gogoi Raijor Dal cashed on the anti-CAA sentiment. The State of Assam witnessed huge protests during the anti-CAA protests, which led to the birth of these two regional parties. Hence, they have made a mark among the people who opposed the CAA.
The BJP leaders, however, never mentioned them in their election rallies as their major targets were Congress and AIUDF.
However, what stole the limelight during the election campaign was Congress’ “five guarantees” to the people of the state, which include five lakh Government jobs in 5 years, steps to scrap the CAA, free electricity up to 200 units for all households, ₹2,000 per month to all homemakers and enhancing the daily wage of tea garden workers from ₹167 at present to ₹365.
Amidst all the active campaign from the Congress’ side, news that could have gone wrong was the exit of the All India Mahila Congress President, Sushmita Dev.
There were media reports of her exit from the party as she was not happy with Congress-AIUDF seat-sharing agreement in the Barak Valley, which is an important region for the party. All said and done, Dev came back with a bang and started her campaign in different parts of Assam.
Meanwhile, to counter Congress’ five guarantees and “Assam Bachao Bus Yatra”, the BJP pushed possibly every national leader to do extensive campaigning in Assam, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP National President JP Nadda, Union Minister Smiriti Irani, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, etc.
However, what remains the same in their election speeches, the attack on the Congress-AIUDF alliance and how Baddrudin Ajmal was a threat to Assam’s culture and identity. The BJP aggressively emphasised how the Saffron Party is the only one that can save the indigenous Assamese from illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Congress and Ajmal.
Also, it seems the BJP has a base for themselves where all their strategies seem to work among the people of Assam. The people in the elections rallies of PM Modi, Amit Shah, are living proof of that. At the same time, Himanta Biswa Sarma saw another kind of craze for him among the public.
As per the last Assembly Elections, the state witnessed the constant flow of the usual star campaigners from the two major parties — the BJP and Congress — arriving from Delhi in chartered flights to join state-level leaders to hold mega rallies and claimed to win more than 100 seats, respectively and taking constant digs at each other.
Talking about opinion polls, in January, the IANS C-Voter “Battle for the States” survey stated that the ruling BJP would win 77 seats out of the total 126 seats of Assam Assembly seats. It had predicted around 40 seats to the Congress-led Grand-Alliance. In the last weeks of February, the ABP C-Voter opinion predicted 68–76 seats for the NDA while it gave Congress around 43–51 seats.
However, in a major turn of events, the latest assessment of public sentiment by Times Now-C Voter anticipated BJP’s win in Assam with a meagre edge over Congress. According to the survey, the BJP may get 67 seats, while Congress may win 57, a little short of the majority mark.
The credit for the sudden rise of Congress goes to the aggressive campaigning by leaders like Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President Ripun Bora, MP Gourav Gogoi, Rakibul Hussain, Pradyut Borodoloi, Debabrata Saikia and Sushmita Dev. However, AICC General Secretary, in charge of Assam, Jitendra Singh, is considered the driving force behind the Congress’ campaign.
The BJP’s win in the 2016 Assam Assembly Election was remarkable. However, this time the saffron brigade seems a bit tense, courtesy to the Congress-led Grand-Alliance. One can see the party’s nervousness when Assam Finance Minister Sarma himself said that Ajmal’s AIUDF would be a factor in the Assam Assembly Elections.
The reason behind BJP launching an attack on Ajmal left, right and centre is that the AIUDF President claimed to have control over almost 34% of Assam’s Muslim population, particularly the Bengali speaking ones of lower Assam who are tilting towards the AIUDF. That is the main reason that the saffron party is concerned.
Following the campaign, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi also visited the State several times to boost the campaign. From visiting the Kamakhya Temple to tea garden workers, the sibling duo of the Grand Old Party did it all.
From the Gamosa politics to Jati, Mati, Bheti, the BJP also made their presence felt. However, this is one the first time when the party is contesting the elections without any Chief Ministerial candidate, which also led to speculations that who will ultimately sit on the throne if voted to power —incumbent CM Sarbananda Sonowal or Himanata Biswa Sarma, who has almost established himself as a cult figure with a huge chunk of supporters.
Controversies that sparked outrage as elections in other states, Assam too witnessed few political controversies which sparked outrage among the leaders.
All said and done, the Assam Assembly Elections results will be out on 2 May. It will be interesting to see who will have the last laugh and which party will witness the great loss.