Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) boasts of its well-oiled election management team. But this time the picture in Barak Valley is a bit different because many party old guards have raised eyebrows over the selection of candidates.
If Uttar Pradesh holds the key to Delhi, Barak Valley too enjoys a similar status during Assam Assembly elections.
It sends 15 MLAs and no party can afford to take Barak Valley lightly. For the prestigious Silchar seat, the top brass of BJP has picked Dipayan Chakraborty who many know as one of the ‘closest’ confidantes of Lok Sabha MP Dr. Rajdeep Roy.
The cold war between incumbent Silchar MLA Dilip Paul and Rajdeep Roy is known to one and all. Much has been said about the syndicate raj that BJP’s opponents allege has flourished in Barak Valley under the tutelage of its local leadership.
The needle of suspicion has been hovering over Cachar BJP president Kaushik Rai for quite a while. Ironically this time Kaushik has been given the opportunity to try his luck from Lakhipur—a constituency that was represented by Congress turncoat Rajdeep Goala.
Party veteran Kabindra Purkayastha finally broke his silence and traded charges against Rajdeep Roy for denying a ticket to his son Kanad.
In a no holds barred approach Kabindra babu lashed out at Rajdeep and his associates for running the local unit according to their whims and fancies.
Just ahead of the polls, Goala joined BJP with the hope of getting the ticket from Lakhipur. To his utter dismay, his adopted party ignored him and nominated its own lad–Kaushik Rai.
BJP has mastered the art of election sloganeering. Its aim in 2021 is to win 100 plus seats. Though BJP is eyeing ‘Mission 100+’, it’s contesting only on 92 seats. Now, this political algebra can be solved only by BJP itself. Let’s keep this question wide open.
The 2021 Assam election is certainly not going to be a cakewalk for the BJP. There is a difference between wrestling and retaining.
In 2016 BJP was a serious contender; in 2021 BJP is going to play as a defending champion. In 2016, the opposition was fragmented; in 2021 the opposition has united to a certain extent.
At the same time new entrants like Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), Raijor Dal of Akhil Gogoi are likely to cut into the vote share of the premier parties like BJP and Congress.
The scenario in Barak Valley is not at all favourable for the BJP in 2021. Narendra Modi has been functioning as an undisputed Tsar for the past 8 years.
Nobody in the party has dared to question his style of functioning. There was no need for it either because he has single-handedly brought the party to power in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and above all in the Northeast—the unconquered territory of the saffron brigade.
From North to South, BJP has stretched its footprints across India under the Modi-Shah duo. But the discontentment among the BJP leaders in Barak Valley is showing that the grip of central leadership has started losing its sheen.
Till five years ago BJP was considered to be the lone voice of the Hindus in Barak Valley. Let’s also keep in mind that in 2016 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was one of the major issues.
Now, the game has changed. Actually, the truth is polarization can help you win few elections. It will be foolish to bank on this formula to win every election.
Now, it will be apt to analyse few factors that might go against BJP in Barak Valley. Of late, various departments of the Assam government recruited candidates in various positions. Surprisingly not a single candidate from Barak Valley could make it.
At the same time, it also needs to be borne in mind that most of the BJP leaders in Assam are turncoats, including the chief minister and BJP’s Man Friday in the state—Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The old guards have been sidelined. This new BJP knows the art of winning seats and forming governments.
This has antagonized the party veterans like Kabindra and Mission Ranjan Das of Karimganj. Certainly, they will not keep silent. How far the nominated candidates can overcome this infighting, time alone will tell.
The long and short of the tale of the 2021 Assam election is—here in Barak Valley the contest is going to be between the new BJP and the disgruntled old guards.
Will it help Congress? Let’s keep our fingers crossed and wait for the D-day. Yes, one thing can be certainly said that intra-party feud is likely to cost BJP three seats in Barak Valley—Silchar, Lakhipur and Udharbond.
Rajdeep Goala is a wounded leader at Lakhipur. He will not allow a parachute candidate like Kaushik to win from his father’s bastion.
Dilip Paul has already decided to contest from Silchar as an independent candidate. His lone aim will be to help Congress candidate Tamal Banik wrest Silchar from BJP.
The incumbent BJP MLA from Udharbond Mihir Kanti Shome is facing massive anti-incumbency baggage.
Now, it’s to be seen how far Sonowal’s outreach ‘doles’ to tea belts help Shome at Udharbond as this constituency has a sizeable number of votes from tea belts.
2021 will be an interesting electoral battle to watch. Discontentment, frustration, sidelining and heartbreak will be too hot for BJP to handle.
Satraajit Palchoudhury is a journalist based in Silchar. He can be reached at [email protected]