There are many reasons for the Assamese voter to be unhappy: floods and soil erosion, concerns about upcoming big dams, rhino poaching and a long list of financial scams allegedly perpetrated by the Tarun Gogoi government. Gogoi, a veteran Congress party leader, has been chief minister of the state since 2001, having won three elections. This Lok Sabha election may be one where the Congress is said to be facing national gloom, but the party and its man in Assam have good reason to be sitting pretty.

1. A divided opposition

Assam's politics, in the streets as at the polling booth, is marked by great linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity.  This has created ample ground for political divisions of all sorts. Part of the Congress' staying power in Assam comes from having mastered these divisions. It also helps that the opposition remains divided.

There was a lot of talk about a pre-poll alliance between the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Asom Gono Porishod, but it didn't happen. As a result, many top leaders of the AGP have hopped over to the BJP, an indication of which is the stronger of the two in this election. The BJP's growing confidence in the state is the reason the alliance did not work out. The confidence comes from having as their face Sarbananda Sonowal, once a flamboyant student leader. This may have long-term implications for Assam politics. 

For now, the fact that the anti-Congress vote is being divided between two parties will bring relief to Gogoi's party, especially in areas with large concentrations of Assamese-speaking voters in upper Assam. These are the voters whose political identity is shaped by the perception that they are being swamped by "settlers/immigrants" from Bangladesh, and they are the ones talking a lot about Narendra Modi. 

The BJP is trying its best to expand itself beyond this group of voters and is seriously wooing the traditional Congress vote bank in the tea tribes belt in upper Assam. However, Congress seems to have the trump card yet again by supporting the demand for Scheduled Tribes status for the community, as also for another five "ethnic" Assamese-speaking communities. If they get Scheduled Tribe status, this would reduce the "caste" Hindu Assamese to a small minority, whose political inclinations would be divided between the AGP, the BJP and the Congress.

2. Losing some Muslim votes could help Congress

The Congress has lately been losing some of its Muslim votes to the All India United Democratic Front, but paradoxically this helps the grand old party. A split in Muslim votes would help the BJP. Yet it also prevents the Congress from being seen as the main party wooing the backward and "settler/immigrant" Muslim vote. As a result, the Congress has positioned itself as a party that is wooing a diverse voter group, which includes Assamese-speaking Muslims and also Assamese-speaking Hindus, who feel threatened by the rise of the AIUDF. Assam's Muslims constitute 30 per cent of its population.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress managed to largely retain its vote share but won only seven seats, two less than its previous tally. Assam sends 14 representatives to the Lok Sabha. The decline was was attributed to the loss of Muslim votes to the AIUDF, which had contested the Lok Sabha election for the first time. Given the large-scale Bodo-Muslim violence in western Assam in 2012, which created widespread insecurity among Muslims, and that the AIDUF representatives have had five years to expand and consolidate their patronage network in the backward Muslim areas, the party's good show in their stronghold is likely to continue. 

3. Civil society divided

Also entering the fray this time is the Aam Aadmi Party, which seeks to capitalise on the voter's disenchantment with the Congress over governance and policy issues. For years, a lot of the opposition to the Congress in Assam has come from a social organisation called the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti. The KMSS has led agitations against big dams, for land rights and other similar issues. The KMSS has issued a list of its favourite candidates based on each one's winning potential. Not a single one of them is an AAP candidate, even though the AAP and their candidates are targeting similar issues and voters. This further divides the anti-Congress vote.

4. A desire for stability

This election in Assam, like many before, has been forged in blood. Large-scale Bodo-Muslim violence in western Assam in 2012 remains fresh in people's minds. Even today, there are small incidents, and the ethnic-religious-community divides are being sharpened further. The powerful Bodoland People's Front is an alliance partner of the Congress. Many voters see the current Bodo-Congress arrangement as on that ensures stability in western Assam.

Decades of violence and turmoil have left the people of Assam craving peace and stability. The Congress is also likely to reap the benefits of initiating negotiations with the major rebel groups in Assam like the United Liberation Front of Assam National Democratic Front of Bodoland, and the Dima Halim Daoga, which has ushered in a period of relative peace. After a long time Assam is seeing an election in which militant groups have not called for a boycott of polling and there are no specific threats of bomb blasts to deter people from voting.