The BJP is committed to uprooting the Congress from Assam and Karnataka, party president Amit Shah said at an election meeting on Thursday evening, reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Congress Mukt Bharat” vision.
“With Uttarakhand gone, Assam and Karnataka are the only two big states left with the Congress,” Shah told an enthusiastic audience at Dholia in Cachar district in Assam’s Barak Valley on Thursday evening, adding the BJP would beat its rival party on the issues of corruption, poor governance and vote-bank politics.
Given that the BJP scored a duck in Barak Valley and garnered only 11% of the vote in the 2011 state assembly elections, Shah knows the humongous task ahead and is trying to undo mistakes committed during unsuccessful party campaigns in Delhi and Bihar.
Shah and his party are banking on the popularity and groundwork of campaign committee convener Himanta Biswa Sarma, who joined the right-wing outfit last year.
Learning from the Bihar mistake, Shah chose to forge a formidable electoral alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the entire Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) to ensure the tribal and Hindu vote did not get divided in a state with 34% minority population. Lower Assam alone accounts for 54% of the minority vote, with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Baddrudin Ajmal the dominant force. Rather than let different vote banks combine -- the fatal mistake in Bihar -- the BJP used compromise and resources to consolidate its own support base.
This was evident in all four election meetings addressed by Shah, where he targeted Bangladeshi infiltrators, lured tea garden labourers with better wages and bonuses, and gave a commitment to rehabilitate Hindu refugees from Bangladesh.
“I challenge Congress president Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi to give a commitment to stop infiltrators from across. They will not as these infiltrators are vote banks of Congress,” Shah said at Ratabari in Karimganj district.
The attack on the Congress is calibrated as Shah targets its national leadership and Sarma the state dynasty politics promoted under Tarun Gogoi.
The BJP president is nuanced in minority-dominated segments as the party does not want Muslims to shift en-masse from Ajmal’s AIUDF to the Congress — a replay of the Delhi elections where the entire Congress vote bank switched to the AAP.
“AIUDF is the B team of Congress. The BJP would rather sit in Opposition for the next 50 years than support Ajmal. Gogoi and Ajmal target each other during the day while hob-nob with each other in the dark,” Shah said at a rally in minority-dominated Hailakandi.
Shah and other BJP leaders such as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and roads minister Nitin Gadkari have also targeted the poor governance of the Gogoi government in the past decade despite former prime minister Manmohan Singh being elected from Assam.
“Both Sonia Gandhi and Gogoi should answer for this misrule. They say if BJP forms a government it will be run from Nagpur. I want to ask Gogoi whether his government was run from Italy,” Shah said at a meeting in Borkhola, Cachar district.
While Shah is circumspect about the result given the complex minority equation, Sarma is quite vocal, saying if the BJP exceeds eight seats out of 15 in Barak Valley, the party will cross the 55 seat mark in the next state assembly of 126. Shah will return to campaign in Assam on April 5 after the first phase of polling is over.