Guwahati, Dec 31, 2023, IANS
Guwahati, Dec 31 (IANS) The BJP has started preparations for the Lok Sabha polls in Assam and the party’s chief architect in the state Himanta Biswa Sarma has instructed party leaders to go to the people and explain the welfare schemes of both the Union and state government to them.
There are a total of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast and Assam has the highest — 14 seats — among all the states in this region. The saffron camp has set a target of winning at least 22 seats in the northeast and this can only be achieved if the BJP wins 12-13 seats in Assam.
In the previous Lok Sabha polls, three Congress candidates won in Assam, namely Pradyut Bordoloi from Nagaon, Gaurav Gogoi from Kaliabor and Abdul Khaleque from the Barpeta constituency.
Gogoi’s Kaliabor constituency no longer exists following the delimitation exercise. There is now a new Kaziranga Lok Sabha seat with a changed demography of voters. The BJP believes that they can easily win the new seat and Gaurav Gogoi has no chance of winning there.
Nagaon has been a BJP stronghold for the last two decades with senior party leader and former Union Minister Rajen Gohain winning the seat four times.
Gohain was denied a ticket last time as he was an accused in a molestation case, however this time he is a potential candidate there.
But there is a power struggle between Gohain and the next generation BJP leaders in Nagaon and if the infighting continues till the polls, then the BJP may find it difficult to win this seat back.
Khaleque’s seat Barpeta is dominated by Muslim votes, but Badruddin Ajmal’s party AIUDF will field a candidate there. If the contest becomes a triangular one, then the BJP has a good chance in Barpeta too.
Sarma also conducted an in-depth review meeting with all party MLAs and MPs in the Tinsukia District. The leaders of the BJP’s two allies — Asom Gana Parishad and United People's Party Liberal in Bodoland were also present in the meeting.
Sarma briefed the party leaders on the government's welfare schemes and asked them to keep an eye on last mile delivery.
Much before the Opposition parties forged the INDIA bloc, the Congress in Assam was successful in bringing together 12 parties to form a unified Opposition forum to take on the BJP’s fierce election machinery in the state under the leadership of Sarma.
The joint Opposition forum included Left parties, Sivasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi’s Raijor Dol party, former All Assam Students Union (AASU) leader Lurinjyoti Gogoi’s Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP), and others. But the joint forum lacks a prominent player in Assam politics, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Initially, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were also not given a place in the Opposition forum.
Following the announcement of the INDIA bloc, the situation changed to a great extent and both TMC and AAP are now constituents of the Opposition alliance.
However, the tension has begun to mount among the allies over ticket distribution. Assam has a total of 14 Lok Sabha seats and in the 2019 General Elections, the Congress fought on the maximum number of seats. But this time, as they forged a bigger alliance, the allies have started demanding seats.
The AAP leaders have said that they are keen to contest on four Lok Sabha seats. The other key constituent of the INDIA bloc, the Trinamool Congress has also demanded at least four seats. The Left parties have requested three seats. Akhil Gogoi has openly said that he would contest from the Jorhat Lok Sabha seat. Till now, the Congress is not ready to give its allies many seats.
Although state Congress President Bhupen Borah has been speaking about sacrifice in order to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, he also said, “Our primary aim is to beat the BJP. All parties including the Congress are ready to sacrifice for the cause. I hope every leader will understand this.”
Assam has a good number of Muslim voters with more than 30 per cent of people in the state belonging to the minority community. The role of the AIUDF is important in the political landscape of Assam.
Since its inception in 2005, the AIUDF has played a significant role in Assam politics. In the 2011 Assembly elections 18 of their MLAs won, making them the main Opposition party in the state.
The number of seats decreased somewhat to 13 in 2016, although Badruddin Ajmal's party managed to gain 16 seats in the most recent Assembly elections. Later, after leaving the party, one of its MLAs won a re-election on a BJP ticket.
The exclusion of the AIUDF from the INDIA bloc will pose a big challenge to the Opposition parties in the fight against the BJP.
Meanwhile, the AIUDF chief has already warned that the Congress will face the consequences in the Lok Sabha election for not forging an alliance with his party.
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