Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had to face a tough time across the country during the recently concluded Assembly polls, here in Assam the saffron party has a reason to smile. The ruling BJP in the state has emerged victorious in the recently concluded rural polls.
With the 212 Zila Parishad seats out of the total 420 constituencies the BJP has emerged victorious in the recently concluded Panchayat polls.
The BJP has won 11,248 seats altogether which is around 41 per cent, then came the Congress 8,918 seats which is almost 32 per cent. With 3,038 posts, Independent candidates are on the third position while as the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) secured the fourth spot with 1,949 votes. The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) which won 1,317 posts is the last.
Total seats counted are Gaon Panchat Ward 21,772; Gaon Panchayat President 2,193; Anchalik Panchayat 2,191; Zila Parishad Member 420.
Congress has taken the results in an come back of sorts and termed it as ‘positive’.
“It’s a comeback for Congress. During the 2013 panchayat elections when we were in the power, we had won up to 80 per cent of seats. And that should have been the case of BJP which they couldn’t achieve. This means the people are not satisfied with them. Whereas, we have several positives,” Assam Congress legislature party leader Debabrat Saikia tells Outlook.
The Congress has also alleged that the ruling BJP has adopted several measures which violated the code of conduct of the elections.
Saikia, however, admitted that the Congress needs to rectify infighting inside the party if they want to come back to power.
“We must look in that point. And the Assam Congress president must have a look in this issue seriously,” Saikia added.
On the other hand, the BJP is till upbeat with the results. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has thanked the people of the state for taking part in Panchayat elections in large numbers and voting for development and good governance.
The chief minister said that the people living in the Barak to Brahmaputra valleys, plains and hills of Assam spontaneously took part in the Panchayat elections and results showed that the people have reposed their faith on the good governance of both the Central and State governments.
Congratulating the winners in this election, the Chief Minister urged the victorious candidates to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system by delivering public services in a clean and transparent manner.
BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami said that the results clearly showed that the people want development.
“Lot of organisations, around 70 odd, have appealed the people not to vote for us for various reasons but the people of the state are not fools. They want development and a corruption free system. We have been able to live up to that. If we got seven seats during the last Lok Sabha polls, we will get at least 10 in 2019,” Goswami tells Outlook.
But the political commentators have felt that the winning margin of the BJP shouldn’t be a matter of great joy.
“There is a difference between the panchayat elections and the other elections – Lok Sabha and assembly. When BJP has failed to form government in the five states, this victory might have provided them with the much-needed oxygen. But I don’t see any point in going gaga over it. During the 2013 panchayat polls, BJP had won 1,780 seats when they had five assembly constituencies with them and now in 2018 BJP has 60 assembly seats and they have won altogether 10,958 seats in panchayat. So, this indicates that they have failed in their mission ‘Congress Mukt’,” political analyst Adip Phukan tells Outlook.
BJP and its alliance parteners have 86 seats in the 126 member assembly in Assam.
Though there was an anti-establishment wave after Congress was in power for 12 years, in 2013, they had won 13,537 seats. “Under such circumstances, if we analyse the development, it’s not that healthy. BJP stormed into power both at the centre and in the state in 2014 and 2016 uprooting Congress. But the outcome is not that healthy. But in spite of the defeats in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, Congress has been able to win 8,641 seats in the rural polls,” Phukan adds.
He also opines that the strength shown by the Congress even after being defeated back to back in 2014 and 2016 is remarkable which will reflect in 2019 and 2021.
The ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) decided to contest alone in the rural polls after a series of spats between the two parties.
Senior journalist and columnist Haidar Hussain said that the panchayat elections have given a warning to all the parties about their shortcomings ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in 2019 and 2021.
“BJP has failed to live up to the expectations. They have fared poorly than what was expected. BJP’s popularity has also decreased as they have failed to live up to their expectations and promises. Whereas, this is an opportunity for the Congress and this election has cornered the AIUDF to a party which represents only a section of a particular minority community,” Hussain tells Outlook.