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Assam : Anti-Bangladeshi stance may work in BJP's favour

Saturday, 26 April 2014 - 6:55am IST | Place: GUWAHATI | Agency: dna

The polls may have come to a close in Congress-ruled Assam but the arithmetic of the political parties in the state is only just beginning.

Assam, which has 14 seats, witnessed an unprecedented voter turnout of over 75% in its three phases of polling. High voter turnout is usually a bad omen for the ruling party or coalition. So, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Congress would get a majority in Assam, he found few takers for his prediction.

"There is no Modi wave...The Congress will get a majority in Assam," Singh had told journalists soon after casting his vote in Guwahati on Thursday. Soon after, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi claimed the Congress would win at least 10 seats in the state.

But not everyone is convinced. One of them is Lok Sabha MP and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, a Gogoi-critic.

"The Congress will have the worst result in Assam this time," Ajmal predicted.

The Congress, led by Gogoi, had won seven seats in Assam in 2009. The AIUDF, besides BJP and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) observed that the people had voted for change.

"The people have realised that only a BJP-led government can solve the burning issues of the state. This realisation made them come out in large numbers to vote for a change," said BJP state unit president Sarbananda Sonowal.

That the BJP was optimistic about Assam was evident from Modi's series of rallies in the state in the run-up to the polls. Born out of the anti-foreigners agitation of 1980s, the AGP, which ruled Assam twice, was the Congress' principal rival until a few years ago. That space has now been taken over by the BJP. Little wonder then that Modi addressed three rallies in the state.

The people in Assam are increasingly terrified of being outnumbered as a result of the infiltration of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. The BJP, which won four seats in 2009, has been able to play on the fear by promising to go hard on them if voted to power.

Apart from the BJP, AIUDF too seems to be biting into the Congress' share. The party is believed to have cut into Congress' vote banks in at least four constituencies. But the Congress will, perhaps, be most hurt by dissidence. The party legislators were literally divided into two groups in the run-up to the polls, thereby hitting the prospects of at least four party candidates.

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