The upcoming assembly polls in Assam are primarily going to be a fight among alliances. The ruling BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) includes Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and Gana Suraksha Party led by Lok Sabha MP Naba Sarania, while two of its previous tribal partners Ganashakti Party and Tiwa Aikya Manch have already merged with the BJP. On the other hand, the Grand Alliance led by the main opposition Congress constitutes of AIUDF, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and Anchalik Gana Mancha (AGM), a new regional party led by notable journalist and Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Bhuyan. However, the political game won’t be only between NDA and Grand Alliance, as this time around Assam also has a Third Front which consists of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal. Both new regional parties formed by influential organisations like All Assam Students Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) on the backdrop of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) sentiments with a strong flavour of Assamese regionalism, pose the most serious threat for both NDA and the Grand Alliance.
It’s a known fact that Assamese regionalism has always had a strong influence on the society and politics of the state. The AJP-Raijor Dal alliance wants to utilise these regional sentiments in their favour to score good points in their debut election. Not only this, AJP and Raijor Dal are already in talks with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) who bagged 12 assembly seats in the recently concluded BTC polls. The regional alliance is likely to eat into a section of anti-CAA votes dealing a big blow to the Grand Alliance, who are already in a defensive position in Assamese dominant areas for its decision to ally with AIUDF, seen as a Muslim communal party by the Assamese and tribal communities. At a time when there is a likelihood of Congress losing a section of Assamese votes for its alliance with AIUDF, the AJP-Raijor Dal alliance is expected to make it more difficult for it by eating a portion of the anti-CAA votes. On the other hand, the AJP-Raijor Dal alliance is particularly expected to damage the electoral calculations of AGP — the regional party which once was dominant in the state and also came to power twice by defeating the Congress. Already Pabindra Deka, one of the founding members of AGP and an MLA of the Patarkuchi constituency has shifted allegiance to AJP.
To negate the influence of the regional alliance, both the Congress and the BJP led NDA are not sitting quietly and trying all their efforts to side with the Assamese sentiments. Rahul Gandhi’s claims that if Congress comes to power it won’t allow CAA in the state point towards the party’s attempts to negate the influences of AJP-Raijor Dal alliance and its own decision to ally with AIUDF. On the other hand, BJP is also attempting to win the people over with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the state twice in less than a fortnight to launch various development projects. Although the alliance comprising the two regional parties — AJP and Raijor Dal — is yet to prove mettle in their debut election, both the ruling BJP led NDA and the main opposition Congress-led Grand Alliance are in no mood to take it lightly.