New Delhi: The strategy of the ruling Congress party for upcoming Assembly elections in the state is very clear – make the fight a direct contest between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
The party which is ruling the north-eastern state for last 15 years under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi has actually devised this strategy to reduce the impact of anti-incumbency that is now visible all across the state, if media reports are to be believed.
Honestly speaking, any government that is in power for 15 consecutive years would definitely be wary of anti-incumbency spoiling its chances in next round of Assembly elections. And the best way to counter that would be to deflect the attention to the deficiencies of rival political parties and leaders.
That Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is following the same strategy became crystal clear on Friday when he said that the primary issue in upcoming Assembly polls would be to expose the injustice done to Assam by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in last two years of NDA rule.
Obviously, Gogoi wants the people of Assam to question PM Modi on what NDA govt did for the state in last two years and not ask him what the Congress government has done for the state in last 15 years.
Making his ‘Modi vs Gogoi ‘plank louder, the Assam Chief Minister alleged that the Modi government has discriminated against Assam to an extent that was totally unheard of in the past. He pointed out Modi governmeht’s role in removing special category status, changing funding pattern, removing the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy etc.
Gogoi insisted that his fight was not against BJP’s CM candidate Sarbananda Sonowal because he does not even have the guts to challenge the decisions of PM Narendra Modi.
It goes without saying that Gogoi’s refusal to even acknowledge Sarbananda Sonowal as his main competitor is part of his strategy to make the elections ‘Modi vs Gogoi’.
Gogoi had made his intentions very clear during his interaction with media persons in New Delhi a few weeks back. Speaking at Press Club of India, he had pointed out that it was only PM Modi who could challenge him in Assam because the party lacked any credible face at the state level.
He reminded the journalists that even Sonowal, Union Minister and BJP’s CM candidate, is a party hopper who crossed over to BJP from Assom Gana Parishad(AGP).
The ground reality is that the alliance between BJP and AGP has made the task lot more difficult for Tarun Gogoi in upcoming state elections and the 15-year long anti-incumbency has further heightened his worries.
In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP rode on the popularity of Narendra Modi and won 7 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats with around 37% vote-share. The Congress, on the other hand, could manage to win only three seats with around 30% vote-share. AGP’s performance was disastrous as it could not open its account and managed to get only around 4% of the vote-share.
The significance of BJP-AGP alliance lies in the fact that it will consolidate the votes of that section which wants repatriation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. If the BJP manages to retain the vote-share of 2014 then its alliance with AGP and Bodoland Peoples’ Front would seal the fate of Gogoi government in the state.
In the absence of this alliance, this overwhelming chunk of votes would have been divided that would have benefitted the Congress party.
Congress party led by Tarun Gogoi is well aware of the threat that it faces from the three-party NDA alliance. Gogoi knows that if this alliance manages to fuel the anti-incumbency sentiments among the electorate then the battle would be as good as lost. That’s why he is desperate to convert the upcoming assembly battle a direct fight between himself and PM Narendra Modi. He wants the attention to be focussed on 2 years of Modi government’s rule instead of 15 years rule of his own government.
The problem for Gogoi is that the Indian electorate has become wiser now and they figure out the real motive behind all such strategies of political parties. It remains to be seen whether his new strategy delivers desired dividends in upcoming Assembly elections or not.