BJP sweeps Guwahati Municipal Corporation polls, Congress 0
The BJP and its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) swept the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) polls on Sunday by winning 58 of the 60 wards.
The BJP bagged 52 seats, including the three seats it had won uncontested, while the AGP clinched six seats. The BJP had contested 53 seats and the AGP seven. The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got a seat each.
The Congress, the main Opposition party in Assam, failed to win a single seat. The Congress had won the last municipal polls held in 2013, bagging 19 of the 31 wards, while the BJP finished with 11 wards and AGP 1 ward. Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) insiders say the “rot” has set in in the party, while calling for “immediate introspection and rebuilding”.
This time the Congress finished fourth seat-wise and finished second in 22 seats out of the 60 it contested. Even the Congress’s Kamrup Metro district president Swapan Das lost by over 4,000 votes, while Hukum Shan Ali Boxi, who had defected to AJP from the Congress after being denied ticket, was among the winners.
Boxi won from ward number one, while AAP’s Masuma Begum won from ward number 42. Boxi and Begum won the two wards with decisive Muslim votes that were mostly with the Congress.
Though AAP won only one seat, it managed to finish second in 24 seats of the 38 seats it contested, capturing 15 per cent of the vote share.
The AAP’s performance hurt the Congress most. The AAP altogether polled 42,866 votes to Congress’s 54,980 votes. The BJP was way ahead with 2,37,742 votes while the AJP, which contested in 25 seats, polled 15,443 votes.
There were 8,097 votes that went to NOTA, a huge number considering only 52.8 per cent had turned out during the April 22 polls out of the total voter count of 7,97,807.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will visit Assam on April 28, was among the BJP top brass to have thanked the people of Guwahati for the resounding victory.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma attributed the victory to Modi’s “astounding vision and robust development initiatives in the North East”.
As the BJP celebrated its epochal victory, a Congress leader said that the result was “unbelievable” and did “not” match the response the party got on the ground. “We will have to sit and see what went wrong and what we have to do,” the leader said.
However, several PCC insiders said the party suffered from lack of finances, winnable candidates, cohesiveness among the PCC top brass, social media presence, demoralised party workers but most importantly, the “uncertainty and confusion” at the AICC.
“Guwahati is mini Assam, as people from all districts and communities live here. Losing so badly will hurt us across the state. Therefore, the PCC and the AICC leaders should look into what went wrong. Wrong selection of candidates and infighting since losing 2016 Assembly polls are few of the reasons,” an insider said.
Assam has a BJP-led state government. Led by Sarma, all ministers and most alliance MLAs were actively involved in the poll campaign, while only a few Congress leaders went all out to muster support.
Another PCC insider warned the party brass not to take the AAP entry lightly going by what they did in Punjab where they first tested the waters in the municipal polls. “We drew a blank in Guwahati in the 2021 polls — losing all four Assembly seats under greater Guwahati. Now we have drawn a blank in GMC polls. Introspection and rebuilding must be done both at the AICC and the PCC or we can’t even retain the three Lok Sabha seats we won in 2019,” the PCC insider said.