Is BJP-AGP alliance in Assam a losing combination?
Alliance between a perceived communal party and one with corruption and human right abuse charges with the same voter base may not be the best winning combination in the forthcoming Assam election observes Anuraag Baruah.
Why the BJP-AGP alliance might be a bad idea
Ending months of speculation, the infamous BJP-AGP alliance has been finally sealed again for the Assam Assembly Elections2016. The last time this alliance had taken place was in 2001, when ironically, the Tarun Gogoi led Congress government came to power. This time, AGP has been given to contest 24 out of 126 assembly constituencies. There has been widespread protests ever since throughout the state.
Is anything different this time?
While BJP has been often regarded as a communal party, the AGP is infamous for its corruption and the scandalous secret killings during its tenure. These two common narratives of the party in the state has been a constant deterrent in joining hands at the grass root level. Also many argue that both have a common vote base of Assamese caste-Hindus and thus the alliance doesn’t really bring much of a difference to the political narrative of the state.
Some say that there is petty politics behind the whole alliance drama. For example, Anup Phukan, the present Vice-President of the AGP has been left out on purpose, as he is rapidly emerging as a powerful regional voice in Upper Assam. Sources say that his constituency Tingkhong has been intentionally left out in the list of constituencies demanded by the AGP for the BJP-AGP alliance. It seems personal interest has taken precedence over party concerns in this alliance, as Tingkhong is well known for its powerful AGP vote base. It is also an open secret that a BJP candidate from that constituency has little chance of defeating Etuwa Munda, the present Forest Minister.
Reactionary violence has begun?
In Sivasagar, the BJP party office has been vandalized by upset BJP workers as the Amguri constituency under Sivasagar district has been given away to the AGP by the BJP. In Bongaigaon, angry BJP workers set ablaze the party office as they are reluctant to give away the particular MLA seat to the AGP. In Nalbari district, the district AGP committee has revolted against the decision of giving away the particular seat to the BJP. Quoting the sacrifice of the people of Nalbari during the Assam Movement, one of the leaders said that the central committee of AGP has no right to deprive AGP supporters of the district from contesting elections. In almost all such instances, angry party workers have declared that their candidates of choice will fight the elections as independent candidates if needed.
The Congress government has been ruling the state for three terms now and fifteen years is not a short period. Many from the AGP have defected to the ruling party during this period. But many have stayed behind, still holding the lone flag of Assamese regionalism. These people have a firm conviction that only a regional party can do real justice to the hopes and the aspirations of the ‘Axomiya’ people. Now all of a sudden this alliance happens, where they are being asked to join hands with a national party like the BJP. Thus going against the real ideological vote base of the party, AGP might lose whatever support it could have garnered alone.
The BJP wave
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 7 out of the 14 Lok Sabha Seats of the state, signifying the party’s turning point in Assam. After years of toiling hard, finally the leaders and the workers of the party saw a ray of hope. Thus in every constituency there was a renewed BJP wave as successful membership drives and booth committees were set up. Now many such BJP workers and leaders will have to make way for the AGP, as they become almost invalid in those constituencies given to the AGP by the BJP. This will lead to reactions and protests and only further clashes among the BJP-AGP supporters.
AGP – BJP Defection confusion?
Many from the AGP too had defected to the BJP after the immense success of the BJP in the Parliamentary Elections. Now with this alliance they will have to support their ex-party AGP again in those constituencies that have been given away to the AGP by the BJP. This is an ironical condition and will lead to some confusions. Will the grassroots level worker agree to this alliance with opposing ideologies and backgrounds?
Despite ex-CM Prafulla Mahanta being replaced by Atul Bora as the party chief, the recent alliance meeting with BJP witnessed Mahanta leading the discussion. Prafulla Mahanta led AGP government has been accused of staging secret killings in Assam and this is often regarded as the reason for the downfall of the party. Public opinion is not very favorable for Mahanta and this in turn has affected the party. In the present circumstances, this is bound to hurt the image of the BJP-AGP alliance.
The competing claims have only just begun.