Lok Sabha election trends in Assam showed the BJP leading in nine seats as compared to its previous tally of seven won. Between the lines, the trends underline the identity politics at play, sharply defined by geography.
Before the elections, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which proposed to make it easier for Bangladeshi migrants to get Indian citizenship (it lapsed later), had rocked the state, with Assamese (both Hindus and Muslims) in Brahmaputra Valley opposing it and Bengali Hindus in Barak Valley welcoming it. On Thursday in Barak Valley’s Silchar, which is predominantly Bengali Hindu in demography, Congress MP Sushmita Dev was trailing the BJP that is aggressively pushing the Bill. The BJP was also leading in Barak Valley’s other seat, Karimganj.
As in 2014, the Congress was leading in three seats. Sitting MP Gaurav Gogoi was ahead in Kaliabor, a family stronghold. The other two seats where the Congress was leading are in Muslim-majority districts — Nagaon and Barpeta.
The AIUDF, which had won three seats last time, was leading only in Badruddin Ajmal’s Dhubri in Brahmaputra Valley, a Muslim-majority constituency bordering Bangladesh.
Don’t miss | What the results mean for Rahul Gandhi and Congress
In Upper Assam’s five seats, the BJP was leading in the same four that it had won in 2014, trailing only in Gogoi’s Kaliabor. While these seats have predominantly Assamese-speaking voters, the BJP appears to have thrived on a combination on development (two of India’s longest river bridges were opened in Upper Assam during the last five years), schemes for tea garden voters and a consolidation of the Bengali Hindu minority votes.
In Middle Assam, apart from Nagaon, the BJP was leading in Guwahati, Tezpur, Mangaldoi (all three won by BJP in 2014) and Autonomous District (last won by Congress). Only in Guwahati, where the narrative around the Bill had engaged the urban population, was the Congress putting up a fight.
BJP ally AGP, given three of the toughest seats (Kaliabor, Dhubri and Barpeta), was trailing in all three.
Independent Naba Sarania was leading in Kokrajhar, where he is the sitting MP.