The Bharatiya Janata Party will make, what it calls “the Illegal infiltration by Bangladeshi migrants with the collusion and patronage of the Tarun Gogoi government”, a major poll plank for the Assam Assembly elections scheduled to be held on 4 and 11 April.
The Assam elections will be contested between all the indigenous people led by the BJP on one side and the Congress and the United Democratic Front (UDF) on the other, Mahendra Singh, central BJP in-charge of Assam, told The Sunday Guardian. He added that infiltration would be a major poll plank for the party. Assam has witnessed an extraordinary increase in the Muslim population in the “recent” past. In 1971, the Muslim population in the state was 24.5%, which has gone up to 33% as per the 2011 Census.
Implementing the Assam Accord, under which illegal immigrants are to be identified and deported, will be a priority for the BJP.
The BJP, which announced an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) last week, is confident of stanching the party cadre’s opposition to the alliance. Both BJP and AGP workers have been demonstrating against the alliance. As per the deal, AGP will contest 24 out of Assam’s 126 Assembly seats; three smaller outfits, including another ally, Bodoland People’s Front, will be given some seats from the remaining 102. There were reports of protests from BJP workers in areas like West Guwahati, Bongaigaon, Kamalpur, Tezpur.
“This is a natural reaction. But when there is an alliance, there is some ‘give and take’. We have to make certain compromises for the bigger objective. But I think, BJP workers are a disciplined lot. We are talking to them. We hope that the protests will die down soon for the larger objective of dislodging the Congress government from Assam. We hope that each worker will start working in a united manner to achieve this goal,” Singh said.
The BJP-led alliance will soon come out with a common minimum programme.
Asked whether the state will witness a triangular contest, the BJP leader said, “The BJP-led alliance is already ahead in the state. The strong anti-incumbency in the state will help us. People are fed up with the Congress government’s 15-year-misrule. They want to get rid of the Congress and see the BJP alliance as a viable alternative. Our CM candidate Sarbananda Sonowal’s good image will be an added advantage. Congress and Badruddin Ajmal’s UDF will be fighting for the number two slot.”
The BJP emerged as the largest party in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, by getting seven of Assam’s 14 Parliamentary seats. It got a total of 36.5% votes, while the Congress, which won three seats, got 29.6% votes. The UDF came third with three seats and 14.8% votes. The AGP failed to open its account and its vote share dipped from 8.8% to 3.8%. The AGP has ruled the state on its own twice, but has been on the decline in the recent past. However, the BJP hopes to gain from the consolidation of votes against the Congress government.
This is not the first time the BJP has joined hands with the AGP. The AGP was once a part of the NDA. The two parties contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections together. However, in 2011, the AGP pulled out of the NDA and contested the Assembly elections on its own.