The BJP after its defeat in Bihar and Delhi can now expect some good news from these under poll five states. Still nothing much can be predicted at this moment. Victories in Assam and Kerala will symbolically strengthen the BJP’s status as a truly national party in a geographical sense. Voters in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry exercised their franchise on Monday by bringing to an end polling in five states.
The results are to be declared on May 19 and the stakes are high for both the BJP and the Congress. The BJP sighted a chance to seize power in Assam from the Congress’s Tarun Gogoi. It is also hoping to open its account in Kerala in alliance with the Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena, an outfit supported by the OBC Ezhava organisation Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP). After repeated defeats in Delhi and Bihar, BJP distractedly needs a booster shot. For this, the party is counting on Assam where it has fought elections in alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodoland People’s Front — a union it sees as an “indigenous people’s alliance” against Bangladeshi immigrants “represented by the All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).” It needs a few States under its belt to at least partially offset its Rajya Sabha disadvantage.
Which way the Muslims voted is crucial for the Congress in Assam. If they have shifted tactically from Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF in favour of the Congress, particularly in the Muslim-heavy second phase of polls, the party will give the BJP a run for its money. For the left, it is virtually a life or death battle, in West Bengal and Assam. It is hoping to topple the powerful Mamata Banerjee in alliance with the Congress in West Bengal. In Kerala, it is looking to defeat a Congress-led United Democratic Alliance government that is weighed down by corruption charges.
After his three successive terms in Assam since 2001, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi confronted a strong anti-incumbency sentiment in 2016, the poll observed. Asked if they would like to see the 81-year-old leader re-elected, just 30 per cent of the voters said yes. However, the level of the anti-incumbent mood was found to be overwhelming. From 38 to as high as 70 per cent of voters said they would not like Gogoi retain power, the poll explained. On average, almost 55 per cent of electors showed no inclination for Congress. Only 30 per cent favoured the ruling party while 32 per cent chose to stay neutral in the poll conducted in all 126 constituencies of the state. The survey analysed almost 40 per cent of the state’s population was dissatisfied with the Gogoi government despite his moderate track record.
Last month’s assembly elections in Assam also witnessed voter polarization on religious lines, something rare in the northeastern state. The poll revealed a stunning consolidation of Hindu votes in favour of the BJP while Muslim voter-share broke up between Congress and the AIUDF. AIUDF played a major spoilsport for the governing party. Muslims constitute more than one third of the state’s population. The AIUDF made significant inroads into the Muslim-dominated constituencies, the survey said. The Muslim-backed party held a sway over as much as 23 per cent of that key bloc in constituencies it contested. That in turn ended up as a competitive disadvantage to Congress, the poll analysed.
With religion overriding caste and ethnicity in Assam, the latest elections saw Hindus collectively throwing their weight behind the BJP. Detailed analysis of results shows that unexpected support from Hindus and tribals was the main reason for Congress’s tally which surpassed the expectation of its strategists, while numbing rivals, AGP and BJP. BJP and its allies gained the trust of nearly 60 per cent of all Hindu groups like: SC/ST, OBC, upper castes and others in 2016. Barely one-fourth of the state’s lower-caste Hindu communities backed Congress, according to the pollster’s vote-share analysis. Upper-caste groups were even less supportive, with their share standing at 19 per cent in favour of the governing party, the analysis revealed.
Besides, its move to name its candidate for the chief minister’s post, Sarbananda Sonowal, well in time was another big factor that went in its favour, the survey noted. A positive campaign centering on development appealed to the voters. The BJP’s promise to improve rural-road connectivity struck a chord with the villagers of Assam, who constitute 86 per cent of the state’s total population. Geographically, Congress managed 30 per cent of the rural and 32 per cent of the urban voter-share, the poll noted. Congress also appeared to have trailed the BJP in securing the trust of below-poverty-line (BPL) groups.
In Tamil Nadu, the DMK-Congress alliance is looking to trounce the AIADMK. The outcome will have a bearing on the GST Bill’s 1 per cent additional charge that is being opposed by Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK government. Anyways these are just poll surveys conducted by various agencies. Let’s wait for final results.
Sources from various agencies
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