BJP repeats it again — its ‘electoral magic’ in Assam. A massive 5-0 victory for the BJP-led alliance in the by-election held on October 30.
Despite strong public opinion against the unprecedented rise in petroleum products, essential commodities, and especially edible oil prices, electorates in the five constituencies voted collectively for the victory of BJP and its ally.
The BJP on Tuesday registered victory in three seats, while UPPL bagged two seats. The saffron party won Thowra, Mariani and the Bhabinipur seats, while its new-found partner, the UPPL won at Gossaigaon and Tamulpur.
Political analysts find BJP’s landslide victory in the by-election is quite implausible, and that too, in the Brahmaputra Valley.
While the BJP is facing the wrath of public outrage across India for the constant rise in the price of petroleum products and LPG, the people of Assam are also not happy with the issue because it has resulted in rise in prices of all commodities.
The issue of price rise has resulted in a dip in the popularity of the Modi government and the BJP across India. Social media platforms are vociferously criticizing the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But, despite the nationwide outrage against price rise, there are definitely more reasons to be surprised with BJP’s repeated electoral victory in Assam and that too, in the Brahmaputra Valley. Still, the electorates have voted for the BJP.
People in Assam, especially the indigenous Assamese population are often critical of the BJP, and over and over again brand the saffron party as ‘anti-Assamese’. In fact, two new political parties – AJP and Raijor Dal were born to root out the BJP.
During the Assam Legislative Assembly election earlier this year, there was a strong possibility that the BJP may lose the support of the Assamese-speaking people, especially in the Brahmaputra Valley.
The two new political parties were formed amid the anti–CAA wave. It was apparent that the BJP would suffer a major electoral setback in the Assembly election because of trying to forcefully impose the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Assam.
In addition to the anti-CAA wave, BJP’s worry was the formation of a grand alliance of eight parties to consolidate anti-BJP votes as the Congress and the AIUDF had joined hands.
The Congress – AIUDF alliance was worrisome for the BJP because Assam has nearly 40 percent Muslim population, and the votes usually go against the BJP.
To add to the Congress-AIUDF marriage, BJP’s worry was the entry of BPF in the grand alliance. It was projected that the BPF may also win up to 12 seats in the Bodo areas.
Despite all the challenges, the BJP managed to come back to power in Assam for the second consecutive term. Its vote share was up by 3.70 percent, and Himanta Biswa Sarma confidently formed the new government with the support of AGP and the UPPL.
When it comes to electoral politics in Assam, the BJP always manages to spring surprises. It will be pertinent to mention that the BJP had won seven out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, and in 2019, the party managed to win nine seats.
How BJP always wins elections so convincingly in Assam is quite amazing. It is apparent that the BJP has achieved successive electoral victories through multiple strategies.
Political scientists claim that the BJP ‘manufactured’ social perceptions, implemented ‘populist’ schemes and brought almost all mainstream tribal ethnic outfits into its fold.
During the first wave of the pandemic, the BJP regained the political legitimacy it had lost during the anti-CAA wave through initiatives like the Arogya Nidhi.
Exempting the Sixth Schedule council areas — the Bodo Territorial Council, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and the Dima Hasao from the purview of CAA, the BJP government succeeded in wooing other ethnic organisations from the anti-CAA movement.
Moreover, decade-long work by the RSS had turned the tea tribes to BJP’s fold. The tea community got the highest patronage from the BJP. The saffron party managed to create more beneficiaries under various state and central schemes, and it paid dividends in terms of votes.
The BJP also created the ‘fear’ of threat to civilization from the East Bengal-origin Muslims. The theory that 65 per cent of the indigenous Assamese people are under threat from 35 per cent Muslims was a game-changer for the BJP.
The ‘fear’ of threat to civilization impacted the voter psyche in Upper Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAA resistance.
The passing of the controversial Cow Protection Bill in the Assam Assembly in July this year and the brave move to evict encroachers in Darrang district helped the BJP to infuse the ‘fear’ factor more strongly in the minds of the Hindu Assamese electorates.
But, ‘manufactured’ social perceptions are always short-term, and if the electorates understand the BJP’s short-term electoral goal, it may not be possible for the saffron party to repeat ‘magic’ in electoral battles in the coming years.