With religious polarisation, the voting preferences of various caste and tribal groups in Assam became more similar than different from each other in this Assembly election. This meant that the Mahajot , or the grand alliance, did not have much to bank upon for any particular caste group.
One community among whom the alliance was hoping to make an impression this time but failed was the Bodo community. Despite tying up with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which had shifted allegiance from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) before the elections, the Mahajot managed to secure just 16% of the Bodo votes. Instead, it was the BJP-United People’s Party Liberal alliance and other parties, such as the Autonomous State Demand Committee, that bagged a large share of the Bodo votes. In fact, there seems to have been religious polarisation even in Bodo areas, as the only community that seems to have voted for the Mahajot in large numbers in these areas are Muslims.
Not just among Bodos, the Congress’s performance among other tribal voters, such as Tiwas, Rabhas, Mechs, Karbis, Hajongs and Misings elsewhere, was also particularly underwhelming, with the alliance managing to secure only about one-sixth of their vote and the NDA about three-fourths. The NDA won 14 of the 16 Reserved Scheduled Tribe constituencies with a massive vote share of 53%, 19 points more than that of the Mahajot .
The author is a Research Associate at Lokniti-CSDS, Delhi