The BJP will face the same fate in Assam, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, as the Bihar verdict became clear. The Congress, of course, was happy at the results for it has national ramifications but Gogoi was perhaps the most relieved. He feels the so-called Narendra Modi wave has ebbed. So he has every reason to be happy.
Wherever the BJP and the Congress have squared off after the Lok Sabha elections, the grand old party lost. Be it in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Delhi or Jammu and Kashmir.
Assam will be the first state where the Congress and the BJP will square off after the Bihar elections. The Congress will have neither Lalu nor Nitish to help in Assam – or in Kerala where the BJP is making inroads, witness it surge in the local elections held last week.
However, the sense in the Congress now is that the BJP juggernaut can be stopped.
For the Congress, the results in Bihar mean many things. It was a small cog in the Grand Alliance wheel but it did improve its tally. In fact, not merely improve, its tally has risen from 5 to 26, a more than five-fold jump. That is a strike rate of around 60 per cent. But more than that, the result will send a message across the country that the BJP and Modi were no more invincible.
Out of the 41 seats it contested, the Congress fought the BJP in 28. The BJP thought these as easy pickings. As the results were declared, the Congress had either won or is leading in 19 out of these 28, the BJP was ahead in just nine. In one seat, the Congress had finished seventh the last time and today it won the seat by a margin of over 30,000.
The future of the Grand Alliance is not a real concern for the Congress. It is yet to decide on whether to join the Nitish Kumar government although sources said it will. Its worry is the impact of these results on the forthcoming polls: there will be pressure on the Congress high command to go in for alliances in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
Gogoi was emphatic that there will be no seat adjustments with Badruddin Ajmal’s AUDF in Assam for it may unite the Muslim vote but transfer the Hindu vote to the BJP.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee was quick to congratulate Nitish so was Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal. If a third front, or a credible secular emerges as an alternative to the BJP, the Congress worries that the front will occupy its space. So, the Congress faces a tricky situation.