Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leaders Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Atul Bora. (File Photo: IANS)
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has finally left the BJP-led NDA on Monday over the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The party was opposed to the proposed amendments as it will give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The AGP is also of the opinion that the Bill will violate the Assam accord of 1985. AGP president Atul Bora announced the decision on Monday in a press conference and said, "We have met almost everyone including the Joint Parliamentary Committee, President, Prime Minister and requested them to scrap the bill but unfortunately that didn't happen. As we were part of the government, we tried our best to stay with the government. But we have realised that the BJP government is bound to pass the bill. After meeting Home Minister Rajnath Singh, we are sure about that." However, there is no immediate threat to the Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam as the BJP is still enjoying the support of the BPF. Former chief minister and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was leading the charge against the BJP over the Bill. Mahanta became the Assam chief minister in 1985 after the Assam accord. He again served as the chief minister of the state between 1996 and 2001 before suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Congress party.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had forged an alliance with the AGP and the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) just ahead of the 2016 Assam Assembly elections. The alliance had stormed to power with 86 seats in the 126-member strong Assembly. The BJP had won 60 seats, while the AGP was able to get 14 Assembly seats. The BPF got the remaining 12 seats. The BJP was successful in getting 29.5 per cent of the votes whereas the vote shares for the AGP and the BPF were 8.1 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively. The other two parties in the NDA at that time were the Rabha Jatiya Aikya Manch and the Tiwa Jatiya Aikya Manch. However, both the parties drew a blank in the elections. The overall vote share of the entire NDA alliance was close to 42 per cent. The formidable rainbow alliance had ended the 15-year-old reign of Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi. The Congress was reduced to just 26 seats in the Assembly with 31 per cent of the vote share. The Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF had won 13 seats. In the 2011 Assembly elections, the BJP had won only 5 seats and the AGP was emerged victorious on 9 seats. The AGP and the BJP had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha polls together.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and the AGP had contested separately. The BJP was successful on 7 seats of the 14 seats of Assam. The AGP was not able to open its account. The BJP was successful in winning Gauhati, Mangaldoi, Tezpur, Nowgong, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had defeated Congress candidate Ranee Narah from Lakhimpur seat at that time. The BJP came second on 5 constituencies namely Barpeta, Autonomous District, Karimganj, Kaliabor and Silchar. The AGP had received less than 1 per cent votes in Karimganj, Silchar and Dhubri. But the party had got more than 5 per cent votes in Lakhimpur (7.35 per cent), Kaliabor (6.69 per cent), Barpeta (6.11 per cent), Gauhati (5.72 per cent), Mangaldoi (5.39 per cent), Dibrugarh (5.13 per cent) and Jorhat (5.01 per cent). It had got only 2.86 per cent of vote share in Nowgong and 4.13 per cent in Tezpur.
So, a careful analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections data shows that if the AGP decides to align with the Congress party in Assam for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it can dent the prospects of the BJP in Mangaldoi only. The BJP may lose a Lok Sabha seat in this scenario. So, the BJP which is trying to compensate its potential losses in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh etc through its expected gains in West Bengal, Odisha and Northeast, needs to be cautious in Assam. Meanwhile, the recently concluded panchayat and local poll results showed BJP's dominance in the state. Both the BJP and the AGP were at the loggerheads in these elections and contested the polls separately. The party had won close to 50 per cent of the total seats in the Assam panchayat polls. According to the Assam State Election Commission, the ruling party had won 9,025 Gram Panchayat Member (GPM) seats out of 21,990 seats. Apart from that, the BJP had won 991 Gram Panchayat President seats, 1,020 Anchalik Panchayat Member seats, and 212 Zila Parishad Member seats. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) had won 1,676 GPM seats, 137 Gram Panchayat President seats, 117 Anchalik Panchayat Member seats and 19 Zila Parishad Member seats.