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BJP improves show in Assam with 9 lotuses

In 2014, the BJP had won seven of the 14 seats in the state

TT Bureau Guwahati Published 23.05.19, 08:39 PM
BJP supporters, wearing Narendra Modi masks, celebrate in Guwahati on Thursday.

BJP supporters, wearing Narendra Modi masks, celebrate in Guwahati on Thursday.

The ruling BJP on Thursday inched closer to scripting its best-ever performance in parliamentary elections by leading in nine of the 10 seats it had contested in Assam, going by trends till 9.30pm, despite the widespread opposition against it for pushing the citizenship (amendment) bill in the run-up to the three-phase elections in the state.

Of the 14 seats in Assam, the party had left four to its allies — three to the AGP and one to BPF.


In 2014, the BJP had won seven of the 14 seats in the state, the Congress and the AIUDF three each and Independent one.

The nine seats the BJP was leading in are Karimganj (Kripanath Mallah), Autonomous District (Horen Sing Bey), Dibrugarh (Rameswar Teli), Gauhati (Queen Ojha), Jorhat (Topon Kumar Gogoi), Lakhimpur (Pradan Baruah), Mangaldoi (Dilip Saikia), Silchar (Rajdeep Roy) and Pallab Lochan Das (Tezpur).

The Opposition Congress was leading in three seats — Nowgong (Pradyut Bordoloi), Barpeta (Abdul Khaleque) and Kaliabor (Gaurav Gogoi). These constituencies have a significant minority population. AIUDF candidate Badruddin Ajmal was leading in Dhubri and Independent candidate Naba Sarania in Kokjrahar.

All India Trinamool Congress and the National People’s Party which contested in eight seats each drew a blank.

Counting began at 8am in 51 centres across the state. By 9.30pm, the BJP’s victory in nine seats was almost clear although official announcement was yet to come.

The BJP’s impressive performance comes despite the state witnessing massive anti-citizenship (amendment) bill protests till a few months ago. Several anti-bill organisations and individuals had appealed to people to vote against the party given the vow of its leaders to pass the bill in Parliament if it retained power.

That the Congress was not able to make much of an impact with its anti-bill stand is clear.

Even former chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said a fortnight ago that the Congress failed to translate the anti-bill sentiment into a mandate against the BJP.

BJP leaders attributed the party’s success to the Centre’s special focus on development of the Northeast, expediting stalled projects, proper execution of beneficiary schemes and going all out with its Hindutva card by pushing the citizenship bill, which appears to have more takers than it was believed going by the trends.

Till 9.30pm, the Congress, which had hoped to win at least six seats, had to be satisfied with its 2014 tally of three.

The trends heralded bad news for the BJP’s allies. All three candidates of the AGP were trailing in Kaliabor, Dhubri and Barpeta. The lone BPF candidate was also trailing in Kokrajhar. An AGP worker said, “The AGP’s flip-flop over its ties with the BJP on the citizenship bill, the tough seats it contested and infighting seem to have gone against it. It seems the bill affected us, not the BJP.”

All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal was inching towards winning the Dhubri seat. However, the party was on the verge of losing two other seats, Karimganj and Barpeta, which it had won in 2014. The AIUDF had contested three seats this time.

PCC general secretary Diganta Choudhury said the party accepts the people’s verdict but the mandate also conveys that “issues of identity, joblessness, demonetisation” paled in front of the “polarisation” triggered by the BJP.

In Assam, 81.52 per cent electorate had voted in three phases on April 11, 18 and 23.

In Barak Valley, the BJP is likely to oust two sitting MPs. In Silchar, a Congress bastion, UK-educated doctor Rajdeep Roy is likely to defeat sitting Congress MP and president of All India Mahila Congress Sushmita Dev. In Karimganj, deputy Speaker Kripanath Mallah is likely to defeat sitting AIUDF MP Radheshyam Biswas.

BJP candidate and sitting MP Rameswar Teli is likely to trounce veteran Congressman Paban Singh Ghatowar by an impressive margin of over three lakh votes in Dibrugarh seat. “This is the victory of development and our hard work in the last five years,” Teli said. Another Congress veteran likely to bite the dust is Biren Singh Engti in Diphu.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal thanked the people of Assam for their decisive mandate for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special focus on the Northeast and his vision has opened new floodgates of opportunities for development in the region.

“The Northeast, which has always been neglected by the Congress has turned into a new growth hub of the country under the NDA government. The Act East policy enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the region in scripting a new growth narrative to be the expressway of ASEAN,” Sonowal said.

Assam BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass also congratulated party workers.

BJP spokesperson Jayanta Malla Baruah said one of the reasons of the BJP’s success was its micro-management capability. “We have a large network of karyakartas who reached every individual. One karyakarta was assigned for 60 voters,” he said.

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