Assam Assembly Elections | Regional front could have been factor in loss of Congress, allies

BJP-led alliance said it also suffered a few setbacks because of the front of the CAA-sired Assam Jatiya Parishad and jailed activist Akhil Gogoi’s Raijor Dal.

Updated - May 09, 2021 10:41 pm IST

Published - May 09, 2021 12:42 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Congress leaders campaign in Assam’s Nagaon on March 9, 2021.

Congress leaders campaign in Assam’s Nagaon on March 9, 2021.

The regional front of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and jailed activist Akhil Gogoi’s Raijor Dal (RD) could have been a factor in the failure of the Congress-led ‘Mahajot’ or grand alliance in dislodging the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in Assam.

The BJP-led ‘Mitrajot’ (group of friends) won 75 of the 126 Assembly seats in the State while the ‘Mahajot’ had to settle with 50. Mr. Gogoi was the lone winner for the regional front that engaged in “friendly fight” in a few constituencies.

Both the AJP and the RD were forged in the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act fire that had swept Assam briefly in December 2019.

Data culled from the Election Commission of India’s records reveal that the votes polled by AJP-RD exceeded the victory margin of the BJP and its allies in 14 constituencies. Eleven of these seats were among the 47 where elections were held in the first phase, 37 of which were won by the BJP and its allies.

Of these 14 seats in question, the BJP won 11 and ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) three.

Election to one of these seats, Barhampur, was held in the second phase on April 1. The remaining two are in western Assam, which went to the polls in the third and final phase on April 6.

The BJP had contested Barhampur after the AGP denied ticket to former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who had held the seat since 1991. The BJP’s Jitu Goswami had polled 79,111 votes, 751 more than his nearest Congress candidate Suresh Borah while the AJP’s Dipika Saikia Keot bagged 1,922 votes.

AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi contested Duliajan and Naharkatia constituencies where he garnered 24,192 and 24,232 votes respectively. The margin of votes between the BJP victors and the Congress losers in these two constituencies was 14,976 and 8,110.

Likewise, AJP general secretary Jagadish Bhuyan received 29,849 votes in Sadiya constituency, 7,765 more than the margin of victory of BJP’s Bolin Chetia over Lakhin Chandra Chetia of the Congress.

On April 1, BJP’s chief poll strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma told a local TV channel that his party had encouraged the formation of the AJP and the RD with the objective of splitting the anti-CAA votes.

Alluding to this claim after the results were announced, Congress pointsman Jitendra Singh attributed the party’s loss in at least 10 sets to the AJP-RD factor.

“The regional front was definitely one of the factors,” State Congress leader Apurba Bhattacharya said while analysing his party’s poll performance.

Had the Congress managed to win the 14, the 10-party ‘Mahajot’ tally would have been 64 — the majority mark in the Assam Assembly.

“The linking of the regional front to our party’s victory is crying over spilt milk. A few of our candidates lost for similar reasons, but there’s no point talking about it now,” BJP leader Dhrubajyoti Moral said.

The BJP gave the example of the Nazira seat to drive home the point. Debabrata Saikia of the Congress defeated Mayur Borgohain of the BJP by 683 votes to retain Nazira. The AJP’s Ribulaya Gogoi polled 2,896 votes here.

AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi said blaming his party for the loss of an alliance was ridiculous. “The votes we got reflect the scope for a regional party. This is just the beginning for us,” he said.

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