If confidence and bluster could win elections, the map of Assam would still look largely green. But anti-incumbency of three consecutive terms is a tough ask and nepotism often clouds political judgement. Whatever the larger and more complex political equations that may have led to Tarun Gogoi’s downfall in Assam, in public perception, the decimation of the Congress in the state will always be associated with his resolution to promote son Gourav Gogoi, a Lok Sabha MP.
Gogoi may have put up a brave face on the eve of the results but Congress sympathisers and many within the party had been staring at a debacle even before voting had commenced. The exit of former health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma once known as Gogoi’s blue-eyed boy, reportedly over the ascent of Gogoi junior was a blow the Congress did not expect to recover from. Sarma, who is known to be a master organizer, crossed over to the other side and became one of BJP’s key men in the state along with Ram Madhav and Sarbananda Sonowal.
That these Congress expectations were proved right was not the only bad news for the party on this bleak Thursday morning. The party looks set to slump to a figure of around a third of the majority mark of 64. The over dependence on the Muslim vote also proved to be the party’s undoing – even an en masse Muslim vote cannot win more than 33 seats.
The nepotism charge stuck to the Congress big time. Angkita Datta, daughter of Assam PCC president Anjan Dutta – currently recuperating in Delhi’s Apollo Hospital – was trailing early on in Amguri. Sundry other star relatives are not doing so well either but Suman Haripriya daughter of former MP Bijoya Chakroborty is surging ahead in Hajo – incidentally the only constituency in Assam where the sitting MLA is from the Trinamool Congress. And in a decisive verdict, it seems nobody has been spared: Dhubri MP and AIUDF supremo Badruddin Ajmal was trailing in Salmara South.
This time, Assam was raring for a change, much like West Bengal five years ago. Mamata’s 2011 war cry of ‘Poriborton’ has found a new home in Assam. It caught on and the BJP’s concerted attempts to woo the state where till a few years ago they were “outsiders” have paid rich dividends.