At the moment, the disappearance of the hoardings with the smiling pictures of the ministers on the roadsides is a great relief for the common man. But how are the political parties preparing themselves for the Assembly elections in Assam?

Here the strategy of the ruling party is most amazing. In the last five years, they have done absolutely nothing for the people of Assam.  Before coming to power they published a vision document and promised so many things if they were voted to power. But, after coming to power, they didn’t implement a single promise of the vision document. Now they don’t talk about the vision document.

Presently they are doing a strange thing.  They are promising the same things again. The most curious thing is the case of a bridge over the Brahmaputra from Jorhat to Majuli. Five years ago, the prime minister heroically announced the bridge. But nothing happened in the intervening period, except the laying of the foundation of the bridge.

Now, after five years, before the announcement of the elections, they again organized the second foundation laying ceremony for the same bridge.  Once again they delivered a volley of high pitch lectures praising their own achievement. But this is not the lone case. They did many such things. And yet they are not ashamed of it.

They are doing even something more horrendous than this. On the eve of the elections, they announced some silly schemes for the poor and certain vulnerable sections of people. These schemes are nothing but distributing money to people. The intents of the scheme were nothing but wooing the voters in the elections.

The ruling BJP is saying nothing about their performance of the last five years. They are shifting the narrative from their performance to mega election rallies. What are the features of the BJP election rallies? These election rallies are nothing but a mammoth congregation of people attended by some star campaigners. What do they speak in these rallies?

No, they don’t speak about their performance. They don’t talk about any issue. They don’t talk about the economy. For them, the most important thing is who is addressing these rallies and how many people are attending them.

In a way, it is difficult to differentiate these election rallies from mega entertainment shows. Thus they are trying to create a magical spell to obfuscate the voters by diverting their focus from the performance of the government to mega entertainment shows.

If you have observed the electioneering of the BJP, throughout, this has been their main strategy.  Actually, it cannot be otherwise, because the BJP does not deal with narrative but metanarrative.

What about the opposition? There are mostly two formations in the opposition- one is the grand alliance of eight parties and the other is the two-party alliance of the Raijar Dal and Asom Jatia Parishad. But we wonder if their alliance is still holding good because we have seen fielding of candidates by both the parties in many constituencies.

The AJP is saying that as they espouse the causes of Assamese nationalism they cannot join the eight-party grand alliance because it is predominantly a conglomeration of national political parties. Here, we must not forget the history of Assamese nationalism of the last forty years.

The history of Assamese nationalism is the history of betrayal of Assamese people. Here Assamese people mean the poor and downtrodden masses of the society. People of Assam have seen and experienced what the AGP has done for Assam.

They have also seen the metamorphosis of AASU and AGP to BJP. The majority of the ministers and MLAs of the ruling party have come from a nationalistic background. So this bogey of Assamese nationalism does not hold water. They are also allergic to the AIUDF.

Raijar Dal was hesitatingly willing to join the grand alliance, but they also dubbed the AIUDF as a communal party and abstained from joining the alliance.

It is true that AIUDF represents a particular community. But there is a clear difference between representing a particular community and practicing communal politics. No one can say that the AIUDF has indulged in the latter.

The stated objective of the AJP and the Raijar Dal is to defeat the BJP in the election. But it is baffling to understand how this objective will be realized if the anti-BJP votes are fragmented among these three segments. Will it not pave the way for BJP’s smooth win? Is it a very complex thing to understand? Then, why both parties have not understood this simple arithmetic? This is a billion-dollar question at the moment.

People are fed up with this government mainly on four counts. The BJP government in Assam miserably failed in bringing in development. They have also failed in creating sufficient jobs and containing the price rise. Moreover, they have offended the sentiments of the Assamese people by enacting the CAA. The opposition should have been more vociferous on these issues and forcefully campaigned against the BJP.

The role played by Raijar Dal has also created some confusion among its supporters. On the whole, AIUDF is a solid block. But the Congress is a party affected by different factions and interests. Instead of these shortcomings, by and large, the grand alliance is working. Finally, it is the disenchanted common man on the street that will call the shots.

Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: malakarparesh@gmail.com