Former Assam chief minister and vetran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi. In his absence, the Congress party has been left faceless in the poll-bound state
Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s name will forever be etched in Assam politics. The loss of the titan left a dent in the political landscape of the poll-bound North Eastern state and now the Congress party is pulling all stops to fill that void.
The party that is already struggling to rise above the infighting in Delhi is now faced with a leadership crisis in Assam.
Gogoi had dominated Assam’s political landscape for almost two decades, and in his absence, there were speculations of his son Gaurav Gogoi becoming the Congress CM face. However, the party did not risk being dubbed a dynast once again, especially since it had already lost a political heavyweight like Himanta Biswa Sarma in 2015 to similar charges. So, in a surprise move, it fielded Bhaskar Jyoti Barua, a first-time politician and local businessman, from Titabor (Tarun Gogoi’s turf), instead of Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi.
Titabor, which has been a Congress bastion for two decades, solely because of Tarun Gogoi, has over 1.5 lakh voters. It is expected to see one of the most high-stake competition between the Congress and the BJP this time, much like West Bengal’s Nandigram seat. In the meanwhile, BJP’s Hemanta Kalita will have nothing but development schemes to ride on.
Now, though the Congress is leveraging on Tarun Gogoi’s image as a clean leader -- who returned to power time and again and was awarded the ‘Padma Bhushan’ by the BJP government for his “exceptional and distinguished service” -- to draw public sentiment, will sympathy votes secure an election win?
The answer lies in the alliance forged by the Congress party in Assam. To defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party would be no cake walk -- the Congress must have realised early on and decided to join hands with the saffron party’s political rivals in a desperate attempt to dethrone Sarbananda Sonowal.
Mahajoth – the grand alliance the Congress party has stitched – includes Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Jimochayan (Deori) People’s Party (JDPP), Adivasi National Party (ANP), Communist Party of India, CPI (Marxist), CPI (Marxist-Leninist), Anchalik Gana Morcha, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), and Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Out of the many Mahajot members, only three had won seats in the 2016 Assam Assembly elections, namely, the Congress at 26, the AIUDF at 13, and the BPF at 12.
For the Congress, Assam election 2021 will not only be about ousting the BJP, but also about reclaiming the political legacy left behind by Tarun Gogoi.
Now, only time can tell if the alliance will prove strong enough to wrest control from the BJP, but it definitely has made a win for the saffron party more uncertain and managed to put up a better fight. While AIUDF may be able to swing votes in the favour of the alliance in areas dominated by minority communities, the BPF will help influence the Bodos, and the Left parties may help add a few thousand votes in each constituency.