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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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Karnataka Polls: BJP On The Way to Win, Congress May Get Hard Defeat

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

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A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Congress may have to taste defeat in Karnataka, VOA

The BJP was on Tuesday set to return to power in its southern bastion Karnataka as its candidates crossed the half-way mark in vote count, stunning and ousting the ruling Congress and leaving the JD-S at the third spot.

Noisy celebrations broke out in party offices in Bengaluru, New Delhi and across Karnataka as Bharatiya Janata Party nominees were on the victory lap in 118 of the 222 constituencies which voted on Saturday.

This was a dramatic jump from the 40 seats the BJP won five years ago.

The Congress, desperate to retain power in the state amid shrinking appeal nationally, suffered major blows and was ahead only in 62 seats, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah trailing in both the constituencies he contested: Badami and Chamundeshwari.

The Congress leader was way behind G.T Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular in Chamundeshwari, Election Commission officials said. And after leading initially, Siddaramaiah fell behind B.R. Sriramulu of the BJP in Badami.

In contrast, the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was ahead of his Congress rival by more than 11,000 votes in Shikaripura.

Energy Minister and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar said that the numbers indicated that his party was on the way out after five years in power.

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

The BJP was overjoyed. “We are in a jubilant mood because we have crossed the half-way mark. We are confident of winning,” spokesman S. Shantharam told IANS.

BJP activists and leaders celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and party President Amit Shah.

There were also celebrations outside the residence of Yeddyurappa, who has been Chief Minister earlier too.

Of the 2,654 candidates in the fray for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, at least 883 are crorepatis and 645 have criminal cases against them, said two watchdogs after analysing their affidavits filed with the Election Commission (EC).
Karnataka Polls counting suggests big win for BJP, wikimedia commons

The Janata Dal-Secular of former Prime Minister H.D. Dewe Gowda, which has been expected to play the role of a kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly, was leading in 40 seats — the same number it won five years ago.

As the vote count progressed, BJP leaders became assertive, saying they were confident of taking power again in Karnataka while Congress leaders began to speak about the possibility of an alliance with the JD-S.

BJP leader and Union Minister Sadanand Gowda said that there was no question of any alliance.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is in charge of Karnataka, met BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi.

Analysts said the BJP was leading in Lingayat dominated seats and the JD-S in Vokkaliga dominated areas.

Expectations of a BJP victory in Karnataka lifted the key Indian equity indices during the mid-morning trade session on Tuesday.

Modi’s Performance: Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to market observers, broadly subdued Asian indices and disappointing macro-economic inflation data points released on Monday capped some gains.

Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in banking, capital goods, metals, consumer durables and automobile stocks.

The Sensex has so far touched a high of 35,993.53 points and a low of 35,498.83 points during the intra-day trade. (IANS)