Is Assam BJP’s Mission 100 a Realistic Target?
Is Assam BJP’s mission of winning 100 plus seats in the assembly elections of 2021 based on a realistic assessment?
Ahead of the 2016 assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had set a target of winning 84 plus seats but ended up securing 60 seats which was lesser by more than 28 percent of its targeted mark.
Amid very favourable conditions in 2016, with the Congress government facing huge anti-incumbency and the Modi wave at its prolonged peak the saffron party could not achieve its desired target and with the help of allies - Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) - formed the government at Dispur.
In 2021, BJP is facing a huge challenge from anti–CAA political groups which is likely to eat into the vote share of the saffron party in upper Assam. BJP had secured 29.51 per cent share of votes in 2016 whereas vote polled in favour of Congress was 30.96 per cent and AIUDF secured 13.05 per cent. BJP had contested in 89 seats while Congress fought in 122 seats; AIUDF had put up its candidates for 74 seats.
In all likelihood, Congress and AIUDF will fight jointly in 2021. In that case, the vote share of the combine will likely surpass BJP numbers by a huge margin. However, in 2016, BJP’s win in 60 seats was ensured by a good voting percentage in each constituency which stood at 42.12 per cent.
But in 2021 the scene could dramatically change for the saffron party. In 2016, people had voted for the party as an alternative to Congress.
But in the assembly elections of 2021 the voters who are dejected with BJP over the passage of the CAA will definitely have an option in the form of the newly floated party Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP). And a sizeable chunk of Assamese votes in upper Assam is likely to be bagged by the new parties. If this happens it will be clear loss of a sizeable number of voters for BJP.
A large number of voters in upper Assam, despite carrying apprehensions about BJP due to its push for homogenous identity (one nation, one identity), had sided with the saffron party in 2016 as it was the only alternative available to them.
It is likely that regional parties like AJP and others will cut into BJP’s vote in upper Assam. So it will be a net loss to the saffron party in terms of numbers.
Coming to lower Assam, the Congress-AIUDF alliance means the consolidation of Muslim votes in lower Assam.
In 2016, BJP had benefitted hugely as both the parties fought against each other and divided the Muslims votes. Muslim voters constitute about 35 percent of the electorate and play a deciding role six Lok Sabha constituencies and as many as 40 assembly constituencies. Moreover, the indigenous Muslim population which had sided with BJP in 2016 is miffed with BJP over its stance on the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the party’s heightened tone of projecting itself as a core Hindu voter based party.
BJPs' success in the 2016 election was also due to the party’s effort in stitching alliances with smaller parties and autonomous councils.
This time around, nearly seven months before the elections, BJP’s relationship with BPF - its ally in the government - is strained. AGP, on the other hand, has gone from bad to worse post over its flip flop stance on the CAA.
Clearly, if the ruling party has to win 100 seats it has to contest in nearly all the seats. In this scenario, its allies will be left in the lurch and they might as well end up fielding candidates in many constituencies thereby eating into vote share of BJP.
Politics is game of highest uncertainty. Supposing all these theories hold true, BJPs Mission 100 plus looks like a pipe dream.
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