Lok Sabha Elections 2019 is round the corner and the Election Commission of India (ECI) is likely to declare the poll schedule in the first week of March. We are also gearing up for the elections and are coming up with a series: Election Analysis: What happened in Assam in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls? What will happen in 2019? Now, let's look at the political scenario in the state of Assam. The Sarbananda Sonowal-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been ruling the state since 2016. This is the first BJP government in the state. The Congress party is on a backfoot in the state after Tarun Gogoi's stint as the state's chief minister from 2001 to 2016. However, the party can hope to revive its fortunes after the Asom Gana Parishad's (AGP) withdrawal of support from the BJP government over the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill. The BJP government is still enjoying the backing of the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) and has no immediate threat. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP performed well in the state and was able to reduce the Congress tally in the state considerably. Let's discuss this in detail.
What happened in Assam in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections?
In 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, the BJP for the first time won 7 seats in Assam. The 2014 polls in Assam were held in three phases on April 7, 12 and 24. The state has 14 Lok Sabha seats and both the Congress and the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won 3 seats each. The Independent candidate was successful from Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat. The BJP received 55,07,152 votes with a vote share of 36.86 per cent, while the Congress was able to garner 44,67,295 votes in the state with a vote share of 29.90 per cent. The AIUDF got 22,37,612 votes with 14.98 per cent of the vote share. The AGP that ruled the state twice between 1985 to 1990 and 1996 to 2001 got 5,77,730 votes with a dismal vote share of 3.87 per cent and drew a blank.
The saffron party had retained Gauhati, Nowgong and Mangaldoi Lok Sabha seats and won Tezpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur seats for the first time in its electoral history. The Congress won Autonomous District, Kaliabor and Silchar seats. Some of the prominent winners in 2014 were Bijoya Chakravarty (BJP-Gauhati), Raman Deka (BJP-Mangaldoi), Rajen Gohain (BJP-Nowgong), Sarbananda Sonowal (BJP-Lakhimpur), Gaurav Gogoi (Congress-Kaliabor), Sushmita Dev (Congress-Silchar) and Badruddin Ajmal (AIUDF-Dhubri). Sonowal resigned in 2016 from Lakhimpur and took over as the chief minister of the state. BJP candidate Pradan Baruah retained the seat for the party in a bypoll. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won 7 seats in the state. The BJP came second with 4 seats in its kitty. The AGP, the BPF and the AIUDF won a seat each.
Kabindra Purkayastha (BJP), Joyram Engleng (BJP), Urkhao Gwra Brahma (Independent), Chandra Mohan Patowary (BJP), Phani Bhusan Choudhury (AGP), Birendra Prasad Baishya (AGP), Kirip Chaliha (Congress), Moni Kumar Subba (Independent), Joseph Toppo (AGP), Bijoy Krishna Handique (Congress), Paban Singh Ghatowar (Congress) and Ranee Narah (Congress) lost the elections.
What was the result of Assam Assembly Elections in 2016?
The BJP continued its Lok Sabha success of 2014 in the Assam Assembly Elections in 2016. The party had formed a formidable rainbow alliance with the AGP, the BPF and other parties to take on the ruling Congress party. The Grand Old Party was battling the 15-year-old anti-incumbency under Tarun Gogoi that time. The saffron party along with its allies defeated the Congress and won 86 seats in the 126-member strong Assembly. The BJP won 60 seats on its own and received 49,92,185 votes with a vote share of 29.51 per cent. Its allies the AGP and the BPF won 14 and 12 seats respectively.
The AGP garnered 13,77,482 votes with 8.14 per cent of votes while the BPF received 6,66,057 votes with 3.94 per cent of votes. The Congress was reduced to only 26 seats with a vote share of 30.96 per cent, while the AIUDF won 13 Assembly seats with a vote share of 13.05 per cent. The Congress and the AIUDF received 52,38,655 and 22,07,945 votes respectively. In 2011 Assembly elections, the Congress swept the state with 78 seats and the AIUDF was successful on 18 constituencies. The BJP won just 5 seats whereas the AGP was able to get 10 seats.
What is the current scenario in 2019?
The BJP is under fire over the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill not only in Assam but in the entire North Eastern region. The AGP has already withdrawn from the alliance and some other allies such as the NPP and the IPFT are threatening the BJP over the Bill. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are of the opinion that the Bill is very essential for the country. Shah has recently indicated that the Modi government would bring the legislation only if there was a consensus among all parties. According to the Bill, the illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian or Parsi communities coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to not be imprisoned or deported. The Bill has created a stir in Assam as it contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985, which clearly states that illegal migrants heading in from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be deported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leaders Atul Bora and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in a rally. (File photo: PTI)
Meanwhile, the BJP defeated the Congress and the AIUDF in the recently concluded panchayat polls. The AGP, which was the part of the ruling coalition that time, contested the elections separately and lost. According to the Assam State Election Commission, the ruling party had won 9,025 Gram Panchayat Member (GPM) seats out of 21,990 seats. Apart from that, the BJP had won 991 Gram Panchayat President seats, 1,020 Anchalik Panchayat Member seats, and 212 Zila Parishad Member seats. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) had won 1,676 GPM seats, 137 Gram Panchayat President seats, 117 Anchalik Panchayat Member seats and 19 Zila Parishad Member seats.
What will happen if AGP decides to go with Congress?
The AGP had received less than 1 per cent votes in Karimganj, Silchar and Dhubri in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But the party had got more than 5 per cent votes in Lakhimpur (7.35 per cent), Kaliabor (6.69 per cent), Barpeta (6.11 per cent), Gauhati (5.72 per cent), Mangaldoi (5.39 per cent), Dibrugarh (5.13 per cent) and Jorhat (5.01 per cent). It had got only 2.86 per cent of vote share in Nowgong and 4.13 per cent in Tezpur.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi with former Assam chief minister and senior party leader Tarun Gogoi. (File photo: PTI)
So, a careful analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections data shows that if the AGP decides to align with the Congress party in Assam for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it can dent the prospects of the BJP in Mangaldoi only. The BJP may lose a Lok Sabha seat in this scenario.