The Election Commission of India (ECI) finally announced that the next Lok Sabha polls will be held between April 11 and May 19 in 7 phases across the country. In Assam the polls will be held in three phases on April 11, April 18 and April 23.
The immediate development following the ECI announcement of the poll dates was that quakes of high intensity began rocking the political landscape of Assam with political parties and leaders changing their colour and jumping into different political bandwagons, while blaming their original party or ally for various ills. Seemingly, this could be just the beginning of such political gimmicks and a lot more may be in store.
The announcement of the polls has compelled many political parties and heavyweights to drop their mask and expose themselves in their true colours. On this count, no politician or party has become more blatantly exposed than the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
No sooner had the ECI announced the polls, the AGP wasted no time in deciding to don the saffron gown. Drawing curtains on its recent drama on being on the opposite pole with the BJP mainly on account of the so called regional party’s opposition (fake?) to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the AGP ran into the arms of the ruling party in what appears to be a last ditch attempt for survival.
It may be recalled that in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the AGP crash landed on its nose with a huge zero. Again, in the 2016 Assembly elections, it managed to somehow redeem its prestige and register its political survival by winning a few seats amidst saffron holy with the BJP and other members of the Sangh Pariwar like the RSS.
However, while fighting on its own in the recent Panchayat and several Autonomous Council Polls in the State, the AGP found itself being dumped in the political dustbin by the people of the State. Significantly, polls to these local bodies were held when the movement against the Bill was at its height. While on the face of it the AGP was a part of the movement against the CAB as stated above, the reality check could be that the people were of the view that the AGP jumped into the anti-CAB bandwagon out of compulsion and that it could make a U-turn at the opportune moment. And what could be a better opportune moment than election time?
On the other hand, the hard reality check in a democracy like ours is that, irrespective of success or failure, the people show their respect to parties and leaders that are, by and large, committed to their ideologies and declared resolve, pursue their goals against all odds and stand solidly like the Rock of Gibraltar against the severest of political storms.
Unfortunately, over the decades, the AGP has miserably failed to undergo the test by fire on all these counts. Rather it has proved that it is virtually without a spine and is unable to stand on its own feet. Obviously, a party afflicted by political cancer of various kinds is left with no option other than seeking sustenance and survival support elsewhere even to play to the gallery to convey the message that it exists. That indeed is apparently the sorry plight of the AGP, apparently steeped in political poverty and bankruptcy. It is thus no wonder that in its true character the AGP took the saffron dip as soon as the ECI announced the Lok Sabha polls.
So far as the seat sharing arrangement entered into with the BJP is concerned, it is interesting to note that the three Lok Sabha seats allotted to the AGP by the ‘big brother’ are those which have been strongholds of the Congress for decades together and of the AIUDF in respect of two constituencies in the last one decade.
The three seats are Kaliabor, Dhubri and Barpeta Lok Sabha constituencies. Going by the figures and statistics available to the political analysts, the Kaliabor seat has been retained by members of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s family for decades together and continues to be so till date. So far as Dhubri and Barpeta seats are concerned, over the last ten years, the constituencies have been in the grip of the AIUDF and earlier to that the seats were strongholds of the Congress. All attempts by all other parties, including the BJP, to wrest any of the three seats in the past resulted in humiliating failure. Even in 2014 when the Modi wave was sweeping across the country, the BJP candidate in Barpeta constituency was defeated by the AIUDF candidate by a handsome margin.
With the backdrop being historically gloomy for the parties belonging to the NEDA, the AGP, which is known to be without any base across virtually the whole of Assam, has been allotted the above-mentioned three seats by its saffron master. The saying ‘beggars have no choice’ perhaps fits in well with the AGP at this stage so far as allotment of seats by the BJP is concerned.
Further, with various organization of the State opposing the AGP’s tie-up with the BJP, more so after the BJP chief announced on the soil of Assam that the obnoxious CAB would be brought in again in the next Parliament, it was natural that revolts would begin to brew up within the party against the leadership. And protests of various hues and kind against the AGP leadership are indeed beginning to gather pace within the party. It may not be surprising if at the end of the day a split finally takes place in the party.
As of now, with the electoral scenario not being rosy for the State BJP also, particularly in the context of selection and rejection of candidates for the polls, it would be interesting as to how the AGP goes into the hustings in Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor. The question is being if the AGP would repeat its 2014 zero performance in 2019 as well.