The battle for Assam has begun. But while the Congress party – aiming at a record fourth consecutive win since 2001 – has seen a number of leaders from other parties joining it in the past few days, the BJP and AGP, which had only last week forged a fresh alliance, are both bogged down by internal revolts over the tie-up.
Dissatisfaction over the alliance has been so strong that, while grassroots and constituency-level workers and leaders have ransacked offices of both parties in different districts, one group in each party have also announced their resolve to quit and form new parties. The BJP’s rebels have christened it as Trinamool BJP, while those in the regional party want to call it AGP Anchalik.
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Some others who do not want to remain in their respective parties altogether because of their anger over the alliance have flocked to the Congress. Prominent among them are AGP vice-president Durga Das-Boro, BJP’s Bongaigaon LAC aspirant Sankar Prasad Ray and Tamulpur LAC aspirant Sabda Ram Rabha. Of them Sankar Prasad Ray was president of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) till early last year and claimed he had joined the BJP on assurance that he would be given ticket for Bongaigaon.
The BJP, which had immediately after winning seven of the state’s 14 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha election announced “Mission 84” aimed at winning 84 seats (two-thirds majority) in the 126-member Assam Assembly, in fact is right now more busy trying to keep its house in order. On one hand is the large number of ticket-seekers in each constituency, and on the other is the problem of now having less number of constituencies in hand after allotting over 40 seats to its allies. In fact, after allotting 24 seats to the AGP and promising 16 to the Bodo People’s Front (BPF), and also leaving three or four more seats to some smaller ethnic parties, the BJP as on date does not even have 84 seats in hand to contest.
The Congress, led by a veteran like Tarun Gogoi – he is one of the few senior leaders in the party who had joined way back in the Nehru era – meanwhile has started hitting back at the BJP on its much-hyped promises of sending back Bangladeshi infiltrators, providing jobs to the unemployed, bringing back India’s black money from abroad, controlling price rise, and scrapping the Lower Subansiri hydel dam project. How many Bangladeshis have Modi sent back after his famous statement of April 2014 that they (the infiltrators) would have to pack up after he became PM? How many unemployed youth have got jobs through Make in India? Why are prices of essential commodities soaring? Where is the Rs 15 lakh that Modi had promised to deposit in every citizen’s bank account by bringing back the black money? – These are questions that Gogoi has been asking, with the BJP not yet being able to reply.