Bhupen Borah has to energise the cadre and keep the Congress as the only alternative against BJP in the state.

 

New Delhi: The Congress looks to revive its political fortune in Assam with the appointment of a new president Bhupen Borah and his team. Regional and social dynamics were kept in mind while appointing working presidents along with the president. The central leadership has appointed three working presidents—Zakir Hussain, Rana Goswami and Kamalakhya Deb Purkayastha. The party, which ruled Assam for three successive terms between 2001-16, faces a crisis after losing successive Assembly elections. The party is seeing many leaders leaving it which included two sitting Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and a former Lok Sabha member since the recently concluded Assembly polls.

Bhupen Borah told The Sunday Guardian: “It is a fresh start for Congress in Assam, we are starting from the villages. It is good that opportunists are leaving the party. It will help us cleanse the Congress. I am very much hopeful that by expanding our base and raising people’s issues, we will return in 2026 with a thumping majority.” In the recently concluded elections, Congress got 29 seats out of 126 in the Assam Assembly. In the run-up to the polls, the party had formed a “grand alliance” of 10 parties which included Left parties, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and Bodoland People’s Party (BPP); the alliance won 50 seats, while the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 60 seats with National Democratic Alliance (NDA) winning 76 seats in total.

“The Congress is facing its biggest test in Assam, with two successive defeats. The party cadre is down and out, leaders are leaving in large numbers, the challenge for Bhupen Borah is to energise the cadre and keep the Congress as the only alternative against the BJP,” Jayanta Sharma, a political analyst based in Guwahati, said. “Last week Sushmita Dev had joined the All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC). She was a tall leader in the Barak Valley, TMC is trying to make inroads in the state. Before fighting the BJP, Bhupen Borah has to neutralize the threat from other Opposition parties,” he added.

The immediate challenge for the Congress chief is to put up a fight in the upcoming bypolls in five seats which became vacant as two Congress legislators resigned from the Assembly and joined the BJP, elevation of former chief minister and sitting MLA Sarbananda Sonowal as a minister in the central government and death of two Assembly members during the second wave of Covid.

“We need serious introspection now, alliance with the AIUDF damaged us as the Hindu vote shifted to the BJP is large numbers; we have to work on a mission mode from the first year itself. We have to present a counter narrative to the BJP’s agenda and work in the Barak valley, it’s a do-or-die moment for the party in Assam,” a senior Congress leader who wished to remain unnamed, said. The new president has started bringing major changes in the state unit by constituting two committees to take stock of organisational matters in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and three hill districts of the state, namely of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, and Dima Hasao.