The Prabajan Virodhi Manch said the BJP’s performance in the panchayat elections in Assam was below par compared to the performance of the Congress in the 2013 rural polls as the BJP had reneged on its promise to protect the identity of the indigenous people.
Addressing a news conference here on Sunday, convener of the Manch, a forum against infiltration, Upamanyu Hazarika, said: “The panchayat election results show the ruling BJP’s performance has been below par. In the 2013 panchayat elections, the Congress, then the ruling party after 12 years in power, had won 50.49 per cent seats whereas after two-and-a-half years in power, the BJP has won 41.94 per cent seats this time with the Congress close behind at 34 per cent.”
According to Hazarika, the BJP, which won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2016 Assembly elections on the promise of protecting the indigenous people’s identity, now finds its own electoral identity slipping drastically.
The reason, he alleged, was that the state government had reneged on its promises and taken steps detrimental to the indigenous people of the state.
“In this year’s panchayat elections, the BJP has lagged behind the Congress in every category of seats. Even in Bengali-dominated Hojai district, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has not garnered any electoral dividends for the BJP and it won less than 40 per cent seats,” Hazarika said.
He said after winning 50.49 per cent seats in the 2013 panchayat polls, the Congress could win only three of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, whereas the BJP won seven.
“Panchayat elections are fought on local issues and candidates. However, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his cabinet mounted a campaign akin to a general election, criss-crossing the state in helicopters, organising large rallies and incurring huge expenditure,” Hazarika said.
“One lesson the BJP and the AGP need to learn from the Congress is its faithfulness to its Bangladeshi vote bank,” he added. “Tarun Gogoi insists on including all foreigners coming till 2014 to be given citizenship and included in the NRC. During his 15-year rule he ensured Bangladeshi intrusion into Upper Assam with settlements in Kaziranga, Numaligarh and Sarupathar right up to Merapani in Golaghat and created a reliable Bangladeshi votebank for his son in Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency,” Hazarika said.
Citing the Congress’s victory in the panchayat polls in Jorhat, he said despite the Congress’s pro-Bangladeshi stand, a section of indigenous people voted for it as the BJP and the AGP had compromised on the fundamental issue of identity and there is very little to differentiate between them and the Congress.