BJP likely to retain Assam in the face of a renewed & concerted Cong challenge

Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi *

I have had over the past few weeks looked at the ground situation in poll-going States of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, and West Bengal, where for the present, the BJP is fighting hard to gain new ground in areas that it had little or no presence earlier.

In West Bengal, the BJP had made significant gains in the 2019 Lok Sabha general elections winning 18 seats and its has got momentum on its side to unseat Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is going for her third straight term.

Of all four States, the BJP is poised on a relatively strong wicket in West Bengal where it is the principal challenger to the ruling Trinamool Congress but in the other three States in South India, the BJP has little political strength to make a difference. But in Tamil Nadu, it has tied up with the ruling AIADMK and is hoping to gain a foothold in State politics, and in Kerala too it hopes its past efforts will bear fruit.

But in both these States, the BJP appears to be playing for the future rather than this election. If the AIADMK alliance wins, the BJP may hope to join the Government in Tamil Nadu, which at this stage appears slightly difficult as the AIADMK itself is finding the battle a very tough one.

Having covered all four States, I would like to take a look at Assam, the strongest in terms of BJP’s presence as well as prospects. After five years of governance that delivered on the ground, the BJP is going to the people with a positive report card, and it fancies its chances to retain the Government with ease. Reports from the ground also indicate that the BJP would win, but not as easy as it was earlier anticipated.

Polling for the 126 Assembly seats of Assam will be held in three phases on March 27, April 1, and April 6.

It must be mentioned that the Congress, which was seemingly in a hopeless position, gained enough ground and in fact, got strengthened with the arrival of a tribal party into its fold that was till recently in alliance with the BJP. The poll surveys that earlier predicted an easy BJP win are now indicating a much tougher battle with the BJP just about managing to touch the magic figure.

The BJP has had an early start in campaigning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching it on January 23 and ever since many senior leaders of the party have been visiting the State. Union Home Minister Amit Shah too has been devoting time to the key State in the east. Former AICC president Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party’s UP State leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have also toured the State once.

In fact, Rahul Gandhi made his second visit to the State, where the position of the Congress has improved and is silently putting up a fight that was not anticipated earlier. But it must be borne in mind that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is not facing any anti-incumbency and in fact if not anything he will be aided by a pro incumbency as the BJP aggressively campaigns on the development agenda.

On the list of talking points are the various popular welfare measures, efficient management of the COVID-19 pandemic, handling of the tensions created by the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Whatever the people from outside may say, the issue of illegal migrants continue to strike a chord with the voters of the State, something that the BJP identifies with and promises to tackle the issue effectively. On this count, the BJP still is very much the choice of the people, who believe that the BJP will take effective measures on this count.

While the Congress tying up with the AIUDF will help the Mahajot in the lower Assam, it is likely to create a flutter among the electorate in upper Assam to vote for the Congress, where people are already upset with the BJP over the promulgation of the CAA. In fact, there is some last-minute positive buzz around the campaign of Congress-led Mahajot (alliance) ever since its five guarantees caught the fancy of the people – law cancelling the CAA, promise of 5 lakh Govt jobs, raising tea workers’ wages to Rs 365, free electricity up to 200 units per household, and Rs 2,000 monthly income support to homemakers.

There has also been renewed vigour among the Congress cadres, who see a slight chance after there was some encouraging response to the rallies by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. In fact, the recent entry of Bodoland People Forum into Mahajot after breaking off ties with the BJP has given Congress a shot in its arm.

What this shift means is that the Bodo votes that went to the BJP during last elections will split and some of it will move to the Congress. The BJP’s ally, United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), is led by the ex-leaders of popular Bodo students’ body, the All-Bodo Students Union (ABSU). The Bodo votes are likely to get divided between the UPPL and the BPF, with the former at an advantageous position following a strong anti-incumbency wave against the BPF.

The prospects of non-Bodo votes consolidating for the BJP as against the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) are also brighter now than before. What can trouble Congress in the elections is its stand on CAA. In fact, its face in Assam and President of All India Mahila Congress, Sushmita Dev refused to be seen wearing a Gamosa that had NO CAA written on it during a public rally.

In fact, this refusal by her reveals the extent of the potency of the CAA as an issue in these parts of Assam, where the BJP is aggressively pushing for the CAA and the popular sentiment on the ground seems to back this stance.

Now what remains to be seen is whether the Congress, which has failed to project a leader, will have to pay a price for this, unlike the NDA which is fighting the elections under the leadership of Chief Minister Sonowal. Though there is no official declaration it is understood he is the natural leader.

It is here that the Congress misses its leader Tarun Gogoi, who passed away recently. In his absence, there has been infighting in the Congress that it can ill afford in the midst of a very charged up and stiff political battle, for its own survival it is fighting. In Bihar, the Mahajot that included the Congress had a clear-cut leader in Tejaswai Yadav as the Chief Ministerial candidate if the alliance came to power.

Even now, there is no clarity on the Chief Ministerial candidate from the Congress side, something that the BJP leaders are quick to point out. The Congress performance is sure to be better than was anticipated when elections were announced.

Besides, there were no expectations from the Assam unit, and for this reason, observers are surprised that the Congress has bounced back to this extent. Analysts are sure that the Congress tally would improve as also its vote share. But will this be enough to put the Congress beyond the finish line ?

On this, the jury is out, but not many are betting on a Congress win at this stage. But, can Congress spring a surprise and wrest the State from BJP ? The actual result would be out only on May 2 when the votes are taken up for counting.

* Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer s a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political changes across the country.
He was associated with the Press Trust of India, The Hindu, Sunday Observer, and Hindustan Times.
He can be reached on kvlakshman(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 23 2021.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Yaoshang Sports @Laipubam : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Of Nambul River & Prof Rajendra Ksh #2
  • Lok Adalat at various places in Manipur
  • Covid-19 Survey : for science community
  • A Slave or A Master ! :: Poem
  • Spiritual flight journey
  • Workshop on NEP at Lilong
  • Old Manipuri Movie #2 : eRang Classic
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Yurreipem, Zingyo, Changton: eMing
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • can the dignity of menstruation be increased
  • Incentivize vaccination for success
  • Need for Flexible Education in Manipur
  • MoU with Film Heritage Foundation
  • Unwanted deafening silence
  • Hun : Thadou biggest cultural festival
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Licypriya addressed UN Youth Forum 2021
  • Status of women in the 21st century
  • ..we will fail to achieve Health For All
  • Monolith at Manipuri cinema Golden Jubilee
  • Complaint filed to MHRC on Sanaton death
  • Indifference to the fast spread of virus
  • Abridged Translation of Sanamahi Laihui #2
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Ningtham Kummei @JNMDA #2 : Gallery
  • Career in Poultry Science
  • Form independent investigation commission
  • Need of actions to control air pollution
  • Politics surrounding call for ADC polls
  • Nongpok Ningthou Phoudamba #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Journalists' Sports Meet #2 : Gallery
  • COVID test a must for all incoming flight
  • World Autism Awareness Day 2021
  • Architects @ Makok Technologies, Keinou
  • Bridge :: Poem
  • Second wave spreading swiftly
  • Yaoshang: Cooking Competition : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • World Veterinary Day, 2021
  • What is it in the name? Famous 'Michaels'
  • The Last Night :: Poem
  • Rehabilitating drug users
  • When Money matters, sincerity is out
  • Cultural Fest of Manipur #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Mai-Own : Produces from Manipur #3: Gallery
  • 'Manipur Model' of Homestays gets booster
  • Manipur Lokayukta: Today's Imperative
  • Second wave could delay economic recovery
  • Give teeth to war on drugs
  • Thabal Chongba @Bamon Leikai #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • The Joy of Easter Sunday
  • What's happening in Myanmar
  • Easter : A strange & unique celebration
  • For One To Faithful :: Poem
  • Executive member : Physics Academy NE
  • Abridged Translation of Sanamahi Laihui #1
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Relief @ Rajaimei, Senapati : Gallery
  • The Ultimate Sacrifice
  • ST demand may become redundant
  • Addiction to drugs & alcohol
  • NHPC visit 510 MW Teesta-V
  • Creating space for super spreader
  • Day 3: Yaoshang Sports Meet : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Journalists' Sports Meet #1 : Gallery
  • World Autism Awareness Day 2021
  • Cut Money: The Virus of Illfare in Welfare
  • Vigyan Vidushi : Physics for women students
  • Mulling over the absolute
  • Arrest of former Salai Chairman
  • Yaoshang Nakatheng Chatpa : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur Champion in Natl Thang-Ta C'ship
  • Yaoshang Pichakari : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn the Manipuri script
  • We are all Human ! :: Poem
  • Adequate nutrition for productive society
  • ADC elections assured, but when? ATSUM
  • Thabal Chongba @Bamon Leikai #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • April Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Marathon Race- Kanglei Sports: Gallery
  • Paradise found. Paradise made.
  • AR organises anti drug awareness campaign
  • Fire @ Shirui, Ukhrul [Mar 29] : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Yaoshang MeiThaba @Kwakeithel: Gallery
  • Relief at Rajaimei & Tumuyon Khullen
  • Mask up to beat the second Covid wave
  • Yaoshang MeiThaba @Bamon Leikai: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Promotion of science @Senapati : Gallery
  • In need of a savior: the wailing of Myanmar
  • Science Awareness Programme at Senapati
  • World Sleep Day 2021 #2
  • AR interacts with ex-servicemen
  • Journalists' Sports Meet- Opening : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Film Preservation & Archiving Workshop
  • Fullmoon :: Poem
  • Appeal for assistance to Myanmar victims
  • Holi colour can cause dangerous side-effect
  • Training Program on Mushroom Cultivation
  • On Equality
  • Saroi Khangba @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Mai-Own : Produces from Manipur #2: Gallery
  • War on drugs & sports movement
  • Yaoshang (Holi) Festival :: Book
  • Will advances in TB outweigh Covid-19 ?
  • Expecting Rs 14567 crore from the Centre
  • Still making waves in the the year 2021
  • War on Drugs: The uncheck loopholes
  • Junior Men & Women Hockey : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Account Assistant @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • Principle of Self Determination & Peace
  • A Poem's Story
  • NDPP delegation visited Assam
  • Climbing cases in the last few days
  • Human Rights issues & Tangkhul Women #4
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • World Water Day Water
  • The Night :: Poem
  • Demand to book Lamhainamdi incident
  • Five Films for Freedom, LGBTIQ+ campaign
  • Touch stance with look at past 'mistakes'
  • For a little bit more
  • Mai-Own : Produces from Manipur #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamjing Meira Episode 1 - AMAND Ladies
  • World Sleep Day 2021 #1
  • Science Awareness Program at Wabagai
  • Towards Special Agricultural Zone in Manipur
  • Office Bearers- Manipur Soccer Futsal Assn
  • Of forest and water in the world
  • Chingu Paokhollei Leirang - Ingellei
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur: Team champion, Natl Bodybuilding
  • One Midsummer Dream :: Poem
  • Public auction theory & policy
  • BJP likely to retain Assam
  • Imagination: Not a child's play
  • Climbing cases across the country
  • TAPASYA Foundation day #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Of Nambul River & Prof Rajendra Ksh #1
  • Khengjang-Yangoulen Fish Conservation
  • Workshop on NEP 2020 at Manipur Univ
  • Cyclist Philem Rohan reached Bengaluru
  • Delhi Citizens extend solidarity with Myanmar
  • Create ADCs first ultimatum
  • Saroi Khangba @Imphal #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Measures to contain COVID-19 in Yaoshang
  • Science Education @ Chandel : Gallery
  • Consultants @ The Property Geo, Imphal
  • The Myanmar crisis & our options
  • Whither Homeland... :: Poem
  • Course in Kinanthropometry
  • Awareness of science education in SC school
  • Understanding value of 'Time' & 'Money'
  • Human Rights issues & Tangkhul Women #3
  • Book- 'Critics forum Manipur' : Gallery
  • Realization in the dark :: Poem
  • 39th Orientation Program at MU
  • Gauri Healthy Heart Mission at Kakching
  • State of democracy in Thailand : Discussion
  • Disturbing reports of deaths
  • Stop sand mining from River bank
  • Sharungbam Rameshor: Yuva Puraskar
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Brewing Bio Entrepreneurships in Manipur
  • Mayasvi festival of the Tsou of Taiwan
  • Accountants at R-Square Design
  • Myanmar Memories
  • Staring at second wave of the virus
  • Inauguration and Launching Galore
  • Shopping List for Shivaratri #2: Gallery
  • Causes & solutions of unemployment
  • Where Fate Leads :: Poem
  • 'Dry fish' from Chittagong
  • Education for CWSN
  • ST demand: Gearing up for stir
  • Gadgets matters
  • Houses @Yangkhullen, Senapati : Gallery
  • World War II, INA & Manipuri Literature #3
  • Is there a perfect referee in football ?
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • The way to equal future
  • The magic of Coriander in skincare
  • From a high of 426 to zero
  • So far so good
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 #20
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Mushroom training @MayangImphal: Gallery
  • Periodic, free & fair elections #2
  • Hinges and his beloved :: Poem
  • Meetei tribe wont grab land of hill tribes
  • Four years in office & looking ahead
  • 4 years of citizen centric govt
  • Human Rights issues & Tangkhul Women #2
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Eco-Tourism @CheiraoChing : Gallery
  • International Day of Action for Rivers
  • Save Myanmar, Save Humanism
  • 6th webinar 'Career opportunity in IT Industry'
  • Civil Services Examination 2021
  • Stand of others on ATSUM's demand?
  • Rih-Ngai Fest @Kakhulong : Gallery
  • Solution to surging congestion in Imphal
  • The paper once I valued most :: Poem
  • Jobs at Trueblue Taxi Imphal
  • Twelve profits of office
  • Kerala could repeat electoral history
  • ADC election should not be undermined
  • Shopping List for Shivaratri #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Mar : Govt of Manipur
  • Shivaratri - The night of blissful awareness
  • Aries Haoneo Kuki - new song release
  • Moreh : India's Gateway to ASEAN
  • Career option as makeup artist
  • Webinar on 75 Years of India's Independence
  • Training Program on Mushroom Cultivation
  • Need to save environment: Green Manipur
  • Banning of Thabal Chongba
  • Imphal City from Nongmai Ching #2: Gallery
  • Aries Haoneo Kuki : Singer Profile :: eRang
  • Mega Book Sales @MU : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #1: Gallery
  • Karanjid Ahongshangbam: JEE Mains Topper
  • Mova Cave @ Hunpung, Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • Bongbal Kholen, Kpi District #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 vaccination [Jan 16] #2 : Gallery
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar :: 2021
  • 'Zehara' - Manipuri Movie :: eRang Classic