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    Assam assembly polls 2021: The battle between Himanta, Sarbananda-led NDA Vs Grand Alliance

    Assam assembly polls 2021: The battle between Himanta, Sarbananda-led NDA Vs Grand Alliance

    Assam assembly polls 2021: The battle between Himanta, Sarbananda-led NDA Vs Grand Alliance
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    By Bivekananda Biswas   IST (Updated)

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    As the assembly elections in Assam is round the corner, political parties have formed alliances that suit them to gain maximum political dividend. One of the major changes seen in this election is political parties have realigned their alliances.

    As the assembly elections in Assam is round the corner, political parties have formed alliances that suit them to gain maximum political dividend. One of the major changes seen in this election is political parties have realigned their alliances.
    The BJP, which had been in alliance with the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) in the previous election along with Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), has aligned with the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) this time.
    The alliance had won 86 seats in the previous election -- BJP 60, AGP 14 and BPF 12 in the 126-member assembly.
    On the other hand, other major parties in the state – the Congress and Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) -- had contested separately, which many say had eaten up each other’s votes.
    This year, the scenario is different. In this election, major Opposition parties have formed a Grand Alliance to fight against the BJP-led alliance. After breaking alliance with the saffron party, BPF is now in the Grand Alliance, which comprises Congress, CPI(M), CPI, CPI-ML and the Anchalik Gana Morcha.
    The saffron party had parted way with the BPF after it refused to accept the third Bodo Accord, signed by the central government and the Assam government with the four factions of the insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) on 27 January.
    In the last Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) election, the BJP won 9 seats, improving tally by eight seats; UPPL grabbed 12 seats, which didn’t have any member in the council; the BPF won 17 seats in the 40-member council against 20 members elected from the party in 2015.
    Can UPPL do the BPF for BJP in this Assembly polls?
    This is a tricky question whether UPPL can match the Hagrama Mohilary-led BPF’s performance in the Assembly elections in the BTC area. However, with the new alliance, the saffron party has improved its number in the BTC election that held in December last year and together the UPPL and the BJP had secured more seats than the previous election.
    Vote shares of parties in the previous Assembly election:
    In the 2016 Assembly polls, the BJP, the AGP and the BPF together had secured 41 percent vote share, while the Congress and the AIUDF had secured 30.96 percent and 13.05 percent votes, respectively.
    The BJP had a vote share of 29.51 percent in the last election and its allies the AGP and the BPF had 8.14 percent and 3.94 percent, respectively.
    So, will these realignments make things difficult for BJP?
    Electoral equations are difficult to predict but one thing is certain that the possibility of eating into each other’s votes by the Congress and the AIUDF will be less, as there are areas where both the parties have strong presence. So, the Grand Alliance obviously will gain from this alliance, but what extent for that we have to wait and watch.
    BJP’s strong points:
    Strong leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma, who are extremely popular with the people, is the biggest strength of the party in the state. Both the leaders have mass appeal and carry good image in the minds of people. Another factor is that the party has a clean chief ministerial face. And also some populist schemes such as providing Scooty to the girl students, who have secured first division in the higher secondary exam. Now, social media platforms are razing with bizarre debates whether boys will get Bullet or Splendor bike. Himanta has utilized this enthusiasm of students and kept the debate alive with his every speech getting mention of the issue.
    Another positive factor that will work in favour of the BJP is Himanta’s image of hard task-master. From providing teaching jobs through Teaching Eligibility Test (TET) to 70,000 candidates in five years to building hospitals and infrastructure, there are many achievements in his kitty.
    Himanta has done thousands of rallies across the length and breadth of the state and many a times he is seen campaigning on bicycles.
    BJP’s weak points:
    The row over Citizen Amendment Bill (CAA) and the illegal migrant issues might affect its vote share in certain constituencies, where there are large minority population. However, Himanta and Sonowal have managed the crisis well.
    Grand Alliance’s strong points:
    As in this election the Congress and the AIUDF are fighting together, there will not be much division in votes, as both the parties have strong presence in certain constituencies, where minority population is in good numbers. In the previous election, they fought separately. As the two parties are together this time, possibility is high that Muslim votes, in the wake of CAA issue, will not divide among many parties.
    Negative for the Grand Alliance:
    The Grand Alliance is going to poll without a credible face to project for the chief minister’s chair and this factor obviously will have a negative impact on the electoral prospect.
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