New Delhi: Just a few days before the Election Commission announces the notification for Assembly elections in Assam, the BJP sealed an alliance with Asom Gan Parishad(AGP) with an aim to further consolidate anti-Congress votes in the state.
The BJP has already joined hands with Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) for the forthcoming state elections. The BJP-led alliance, consisting of these 3 parties, hopes to dethrone the Turun Gogoi-led Congress government in the state that is in power for Last 15 years.
As far as the tie-up between BJP and AGP is concerned, it is for the fourth time since 2001 Assembly elections that the two parties have joined hands. Earlier, they had forged electoral alliances in 2001 Assembly elections, 2004 Lok Sabha elections and 2009 general elections. Now they have joined hands once again for 2016 Assembly elections.
The fortunes have fluctuated a lot for the two parties in last two elections. In 2011 Assembly elections, BJP registered win in only 5 seats out of a total of 126 constituencies and the saffron party received a total of 12.9% votes. The AGP emerged victorious in 10 seats with 19.72% vote share. The Congress, however, romped home in these elections for third consecutive term with a total of 78 seats and 39.42% votes.
However, the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 dramatically changed the fortunes of both BJP and Congress. Assam could not remain untouched by the Modi wave that was blowing all across the country. Riding on this wave, the BJP succeeded in garnering 7 Lok Sabha seats out of 14 parliamentary seats. The vote share of the BJP witnessed a massive positive swing of around 24% compared to 2011 Assembly elections.
The Congress, on the other hand, was almost decimated with only 3 seats in 2014 general elections. The party, however, managed to retain around 30% vote share. The performance of AGP was even more disappointing as the party failed to open its account in these elections.
After showing a spectacular performance in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP believes that it has the best chance to overthrow the Congress government which is ruling the north-eastern state for last 15 years.
The saffron party does not want to leave any stone unturned in its efforts to dislodge Tarun Gogoi government. The party, however, is well aware of the ground reality that this dream can't be realised unless the index of opposition unity is fully consolidated. BJP's desperation to seal this 3-party alliance is actually aimed at preventing the division of anti-Congress votes.
It's not that alliance with AGP is going to be that easy for the saffron party. After its good show in 2014 general elections, party workers have become far more ambitious as they have smelt the possibility of the party forming the next government in the state. They know that in case of an alliance, BJP will have to adjust the aspirations of AGP which would mean that some of their leaders will have to forgo their claims on their respective Assembly seats. And this is the problem with the AGP as well. Being a party that ruled the state once upon a time, AGP has also got its own share of ambitious leaders in the state who are unwilling to play second fiddle to the BJP.
The two parties will face this problem more in the areas of upper Assam where AGP has significant presence. The problem is that the BJP has also made inroads in this region recently and the top party leaders will have to work very hard to convince the workers of upper Assam to agree for an electoral tie-up with AGP. Even BJP's CM candidate Sonowal comes from the same region.
Reports have already started pouring in from areas like Bongaigaon, Sivasagar, Sonitpur, Amguri and Tezpur where BJP workers have staged protest against the tie-up with AGP. The AGP is also facing similar predicament in both upper and lower Assam areas.
The problem with BJP and AGP is that they are focussing on almost same vote bank. Both the parties want illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to be sent back and are promising to protect the interests of indigenous Assamese residents. They fully understand that contesting these Assembly elections separately will only help the Congress. And that's why they are left with no other option than to join hands for the upcoming state elections.