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Why BJP needs to worry about Congress-Ajmal tie-up in Assam assembly elections | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Of the four states and one Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry going to polls from March 27, the BJP is in power just in Assam. While it is either aiming to form government in West Bengal and Puducherry or to improve its performance in Kerala, it is only in Assam that the party faces the challenge of retaining power.
The task of coming back to power in Assam is not as easy as it was wresting it from the 15-year-rule of the Congress in 2016. The ground situation has seen a sea change in the last five years.
One of the most prominent changes has been the realignment of parties. In 2016, the BJP, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) had forged an alliance.
The alliance won with the BJP bagging 60 seats, AGP 14 and BPF 12 in the 126-member assembly.
On the other side, the Congress led by the then chief minister late Tarun Gogoi was victorious on 26 seats.
Maulana Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which contested separately, bagged 13 seats.
The equations have changed in these elections.
While the BJP and the AGP are contesting as an alliance, BPF has joined the mahajoth (grand alliance) of the Congress and the AIUDF.
In fact, the BJP dumped BPF after the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) election last year. After the elections, it aligned with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) to come to power.
As far as vote share of the alliances in 2016 is concerned, the Congress-led mahajoth appears to be a formidable force to reckon with.
The BJP had garnered a vote share of 29.51 per cent, the AGP 8.14 per cent and BPF 3.94 per cent. Together they cornered 41.49 per cent of the total valid votes polled in 2016.
On the other side, the Congress got 30.96 per cent votes while AIUDF won 13.05 per cent votes.
In the changed scenario when the BPF has joined the mahajoth in the ensuing elections, the BJP-led alliance’s vote share comes to 37.65 per cent.
The mahajoth, on the other hand, has a whopping 47.95 vote share, going by the 2016 results, This is far ahead of the BJP-led alliance’s 37.65 per cent vote share – a difference of about massive 10 per cent votes.
On paper, mahajoth may appear an unbeatable alliance for the BJP. However, the situation is also not as simplistic as it may appear.
The mahajoth has two advantages though. Firstly, AIUDF boasts of the support of the Muslims who constitute about 35 per cent of the state’s population. Just last week, Badruddin Ajmal had claimed that he can sway 35 per cent of the votes in favour of the mahajoth.
Mahajoth may expect to win the votes of the Muslims, particularly Bangladeshi migrants who inhabit the Barak Valley in southern Assam. However, it may also lose a chunk of the Hindu votes due to polarisation in Upper Assam which returns 23 MLAs.
Secondly, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) had created doubts in the minds of the common Assamese people, a large chunk of whom had voted for the BJP. After huge protests that broke out in the wake of CAA, the BJP resorted to damage control exercise.
It sought to allay the fears of the people by assuring them that their identity would not be diluted.
Further, several of the protesters joined the BJP. The anti-CAA protests also gave rise to small parties which eventually would eat the anti-BJP votes.
Two of these regional outfits are Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal which would eat into the mahajoth votes.
Moreover, neither the Congress nor the mahajoth has announced a chief ministerial candidate which goes against them.
The BJP, on the other hand, would have to fight the anti-incumbency mood to retain power in the largest northeastern state.

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