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BJP and AGP joins hand in Assam

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) of Assam. This move is said to be an intelligent one which will definitely raise the hold of BJP as the days to the next election to the Assam assembly is closing by.

Although the Assam Pradesh Congress tried its best to keep the BJP and the AGP apart, an identical electoral base of the two parties has forced them not to split each other’s vote which would have brought about a mutual downfall.

Sarbananda Sonowal, the central sports and youth affairs minister and the state BJP president, did not appear to be enthused by the tie-up with AGP, as a section of the party, led by AGP legislative party leader Phanibhusan Chowdhury, is known to be close to the Congress. Members of this section had even met state chief minister Tarun Gogoi, of the Congress, a few days back.

The deal with the BJP, however, was clinched by the more powerful faction of the AGP, led by party president Atul Bora.

An undercurrent of misunderstanding in the alliance was inevitable as both the AGP and the BJP have their primary electoral base among the Assamese Hindu middle class, which controls the politics of the entire upper and central Assam.

In spite of the AGP’s fast dwindling support base, its call for regionalism still holds appeal in large parts of Assam. On the other hand, a vast number of Adivasi tribes working in numerous tea gardens of upper Assam had voted for the BJP in the last parliamentary elections.

As the AGP also enjoys acceptability in upper Assam and good rapport with numerous indigenous communities living on both sides of the Brahmaputra river, mutual contests between the AGP and the BJP would have benefited the Congress.

The Congress has decided to contest the elections alone, for the simple reason that other political outfits have chosen to avoid the Congress.

The Muslims, who constitute almost 34 percent of Assam’s population, particularly the Bengali speaking ones of lower Assam, are now tilting towards the All India United Democratic Front(AIUDF) of Badruddin Ajmal. This time, Congress is not even sure of support from the Assamese-speaking Muslims of upper Assam who had stood by the party during the last parliamentary poll.

A quick journey to the world of statistics will point out to the rising fortune of the BJP in Assam. From one percent vote in the 1985 assembly elections, the BJP has showed signs of ascendancy in 2006 assembly elections by capturing 12 percent votes.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, its share of vote jumped to 16 percent and the party captured four seats. Although in the 2011 assembly elections it experienced a slight reversal of fortunes, the party came out with flying colors in the 2014 Lok Sabha election when it captured 36 percent votes and seven out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Assam.

Observers of the northeastern politics think this time the BJP may lose some of its popularity among the Assamese Hindu voters due to its decision to grant the right of stay to immigrants who are minorities in Bangladesh and transfer of land under the Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement. But these two factors may not be enough to shift the ground completely for the BJP.

For the Congress, lower Assam and the Barak Valley are two important areas. While lower Assam has 46 percent Muslim votes, the figure is 37 percent in the Barak Valley. However, in 2014, the Congress could capture only 23 percent of Muslim votes in these two regions.

The appearance of the AIUDF on Assam’s political map has brought about a qualitative change. The Front got 39 percent of the state’s Muslim votes in last polls while the Congress’ share came down to 40 percent.

There has been a 10 percent decline in the Congress’ overall vote share in Assam between the 2011 assembly elections and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and a major reason behind it is AIUDF’s poaching into Congress’s traditional vote bank of Muslims and the Bangladeshi immigrants. The AIUDF had won 18 seats in the 2011 assembly elections and led in 24 assembly segments in the 2014 parliamentary polls.

Anti-incumbency factor may go against the Congress this time. Tarun Gogoi is generally considered to be competent but there is a palpable yearning for a new face in the chief minister’s chair.

That the Congress and the AIUDF could not form an alliance is due to the fact that both are trying to outwit each other in order to become the principal face of the Muslim electorate. The AIUDF will contest in 60-odd seats and this does not augur well for the Congress.

The BJP’s small partners like the Boro People’s Front (BPF) with 2.1 percent votes will chip in for its success. The BPF had won 12 assembly seats in 2011 and the Boros have significant presence in 50 other seats.

Arithmetical calculations favour the BJP-AGP-BPF combination. But Tarun Gogoi has many upset victories to his credit. (IANS)

(Amitava Mukherjee is a senior journalist and commentator. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at amukherjee57@yahoo.com)

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BJP Holds Arvind Kejriwal Responsible For Sanitation Worker’s Death

According to police, he had gone to clean the drain but got trapped in the silt and garbage in the drain

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The new move the Arvind Kejriwal's party denounces the concept of digitalization
The new move the Arvind Kejriwal's party denounces the concept of digitalization

The BJP on Monday held Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal responsible for the death of a sanitation worker in a drain saying that the government was playing with their lives as they are not given protective gear.

“This is not the first time that such an incident has happened. Due to the negligence of the government, sanitation staff goes for cleaning sewers and dies there after inhaling toxic fumes. They are never saved even after rescue operations,” Delhi BJP Chief Manoj Tiwari told reporters here.

His remarks come a day after a sanitation worker choked to death after he got trapped inside an underground drain while cleaning it in north Delhi’s Jahroda area.

The work of cleaning the drain was being carried out by the Delhi government’s flood control department.

Sanitation workers are our helpers and Kejriwal government is playing with their lives ,www.thestatesman.com

“Sanitation workers are our helpers and Kejriwal government is playing with their lives,” he said.

Highlighting the deaths of sanitation workers in Delhi in the past few years, the BJP MP from the North East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency said that in September 2018, five sanitation workers died while in August 2017, 10 died inside sewers.

“Kejriwal is responsible for the deaths of sanitation workers who die while cleaning sewers and the investigating agencies should take action against him,” he said.

Attacking Kejriwal, Tiwari said, “During the last three to four years, more than 60 workers have died.”

Arvind Kejriwal giving speech suring chanda bandh satyagrah
Arvind Kejriwal giving speech during chanda bandh satyagrah

He also accused Kejriwal of not fulfilling his promise of providing safety equipment to sewer workers and mechanical sweeping.

A senior Delhi Police official said that it has registered a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code over the death of the sanitation worker.

The sanitation worker has been identified as Kishan, 37, a resident of north Delhi’s Wazirabad area.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal Accuses Modi Government of Betraying Farmers

According to police, he had gone to clean the drain but got trapped in the silt and garbage in the drain.

His body was taken out from the drain by a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) late on Sunday night. (IANS)