If exit polls are to be believed, the Bharatiya Janata Party is set to ride on anti-incumbency sentiment to power for the first time in Assam, overthrowing the Congress government that has ruled for the last 15 years with Tarun Gogoi at the helm. However, anti-incumbency is not the only factor that might be pushing the Assamese voters towards the saffron camp. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh brigade has been working overtime in the state to create inroads for the party which first tasted attention in the north eastern state during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, bagging as many as seven out of 14 seats from the state, thanks to the Narendra Modi wave.
This election, held in two phases on April 4 and 11, saw a voter turnout of 84.7% for the state's 126 seats.
Most exit polls are predicting a comfortable win for the BJP and its allies in the 126-strong assembly, with only TimesNow-CVoter suggesting it will not get enough seats to form the government by itself.
In the fray:
The BJP formed an alliance with Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front much before the elections, besides roping in bigwigs from the Congress like Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is believed to be the man behind the rainbow alliance. Sarbananda Sonwal is the chief ministerial candidate for the party. The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee is now led by Bhubaneshwar Kalita.
The All India United Democratic Front, led by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, tied up with the Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal, while Bodoland People's Front is also standing, headed by its chief Hagrama Mohilary.
All India United Democratic Front commands the majority of the Muslim votes in the state, along with the Congress. According to the last census, Muslims make up 34% of Assam’s population. Established in 2005, the party took the Barak valley from the BJP during the 2011 state polls. The Badruddin Ajmal-led party said it is out to expose the Congress government and its alleged dubious ways this time. If the Muslim votes get divided, the saffron camp will emerge the biggest gainer.
The BJP first made its debut in the state in 1991. Its rise in the state has been nothing short of meteoric. Only 15 years back, it settled for 48 seats granted by then-significant AGP. This election, the tables turned and the BJP gave only 24 seats to the state party, reported Swarajya. The Congress has ruled the state for 50 out of 69 years of independence.
The last election:
The Congress won 78 seats, the All India United Democratic Front 18, AGP 10 and the BJP won 5 seats.
The major issues that are deciding factors for average voters in the state are illegal immigration, inflation, employment, infrastructure and corruption. Of these, the saffron camp has used the issue of migrants, which has historically been a sensitive topic in the state, coupled with infrastructure and corruption as their major poll planks.