People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXX

No. 21

May 21, 2006

ASSAM'S FRACTURED MANDATE

 

Congress Forced To Form Coalition Ministry, CPI(M) Wins Seats

  

AS expected, Assam's 1.74 crore strong electorate has given a fractured mandate in the recently held elections to the state assembly. The verdict of elections 2006 in Assam, in fact, threw up a hung Assembly. The ruling Congress ended up with only 53 seats in the 126 member state assembly --- far short of the absolute majority. However, the Congress which emerged as the single largest party retains power with the support of the Hagrama Mohilary faction of the Bodoland People's Progressive Front (BPPF-H). The BPPF (H) bagged 12seats (11 official BPPF(H) candidates + 1 independent who later joined the Bodo group after the elections). Hagrama Mohilary led the militant and banned outfit Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) during the prolonged and bloody agitation for separate Bodoland till the BTC accord signed with the Centre.

 

LEFT WINS THREE SEATS

 

Left has scored a significant victory. The CPI(M) has won in two constituencies while the CPI got one seat. The CPI(M) candidate Uddhab Barman won the Sorbhog seat defeating Congress candidate Samsul Haque with convincing margin. The state secretary of the CPI(M) and former MP, Barman secured 33,681 votes defeating his nearest rival, the Congress candidate and former minister with a margin of 6,981 votes. In the 12 cornered contest, theBJP candidate secured 19,238 votes and obtained third position.

 

What is no less rejoicing is the triumphant victory of the CPI(M) candidate in Rangia constituency. The Congress suffered major setbacks as the president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC), Bhubneswar Kalita lost the polls. The CPI(M) candidate Ananta Deka wrested the seat from the APCC chief. Deka has been elected from Rangia defeating his nearest Congress rival Bhubenwar Kalita by a comfortable margin of 6,062 votes. The CPI(M) candidate polled 41,917 votes while his Congress rival got 35,855 votes. Although the CPI(M) entered into seat adjustments with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) with a view to check the division of anti-Congress and anti-BJP votes, the seat-sharing arrangement with the AGP was limited to only 7 seats of the total 16seats the CPI(M) had contested. In the remaining 9 seats, the CPI(M) had to confront even with the AGP. In Sorbhog, the AGP did not field their candidate and extended support to CPI(M).

 

Of the remaining 14 seats in which the CPI(M) had fielded its own candidates, Gajen Barman lost the Bijni seat with a narrow margin of only 2,888 votes. The BPPF(H) candidate Kamal Singh Narzary polled 24,572 votes and won the seat while the BJP had to contend with only 1,679 votes. Similarly, in Jania constituency, the CPI(M) candidate Abdul Karim Bhuyan secured 20,265 votes and lost the seat to the Congress candidate Abdul Khaleque who polled 26,705 votes while his nearest rival Mozibur Rahman Khan of the AUDF secured 26,613 votes.

 

In the other constituencies where the CPI(M) candidates secured more than 10,000 votes are Sarukhetri (15,595votes), Rangapara (12,979 votes) and Naharkatia (10,511 votes).

 

The CPI candidate Drupad Borgohain, a former Rajya Sabha member, won from Nazira defeating his nearest Congress rival with a margin of 510 votes.

 

The performance of the left parties would have been better had there been a left unity and consolidation of left forces. In spite of repeated efforts by the CPI(M) and also joint appeals from the CPI(M), CPI-ML(Liberation) and the RSP, the CPI has shown little interest for such unity before the polls. The left consolidation and unity could not be materialised due to the vacillation of the CPI.

 

CONGRESS-BJP- AGP PERFORMANCE

 

The Congress vote share has dipped to 31.14 per cent, compared to the 39.6 per cent it secured in the last assembly polls. Although the Congress emerged as the single largest party, the party's number of seats has also fallen to 53 from the 70 seats it bagged last time. The party this time fielded candidates in 120seats and the remaining six seats were left to the BPPF(H). The Congress had tacit pre-poll understanding with the Hagrama faction of the Bodogroup. The BPPF (H) bagged 12 seats while its rival group led by Rabiram Narzary drew a blank. The Rabiram faction of the BPPF had poll-pact with the AGP.

 

In spite of its tall claims during the poll campaign, the BJP failed to improve its position significantly. The party projected itself as the 'real alternative' to the Congress and AGP and put up 125 candidates in the fray. However, it could manage to improve its tally from eight to ten only. The share of votes the BJP has polled in Assam has marginally risen from 9.26 per cent, resulting in its gaining two seats.

 

The AGP, which has improved its tally from 13 to 24, has not gained much in terms of voting percentage. The party's total vote share was 20.13 per cent last time. This time it was slightly higher at 20.76 per cent. The regional party was in fact a divided house on the eve of the elections. The break-away faction of the AGP led by former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kr Mahanta failed to make any impact and managed to win only one seat. AGP (P) put up candidates in 90 seats and managed to garner only 2.51 per cent of the total votes. The president of the party Prafulla Mahanta was the only candidate to taste victory. Mahanta won from Barhampur constituency but lost in Nagaon. In the 2001elections, the AGP entered into electoral adjustment with the BJP. But this time, the AGP led by Brindaban Goswami had understanding with the left, democratic and secular parties mainly the CPI, CPI(M), ASDC,BPPF(H), SP, RJD etc.

 

Significantly, the nascent Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) got the same number of seats as the BJP. Both the parties got 10seats each. The AUDF got 9.03 per cent of the total votes. It was the Congress vote which was drawn away by the AUDF. The impressive show by the minority dominated party had led the Congress think-tank to believe that the party would have bettered its performance if the front had not been floated.  The AUDF fielded 66 candidates.

 

The NCP also contested in 44 seats and got only one seat, managing just 2.3 per cent of the votes. It had picked up four seats in 2001 elections but three of them later joined the Congress. Though the voting percentage of the NCP did not fall drastically, the loss of three seats has created ripples within the party.

 

The CPI(M) appealed to the Assam voters to oust the Congress from power and to defeat the BJP with a view to installing a secular democratic government in the state. It also appealed to ensure the left representation inside the assembly. The party partially achieved its immediate political objectives in Assam. Now the election results have shown that the Congress failed to secure absolute majority and was forced to join hands with others in forming a coalition government in the state. The growth of the BJP has also been restricted to a large extent. The victory of the three left candidates, including the two CPI(M) winners has certainly and effectively ensured left representation  inside the Assam assembly. It is a source of jubiliation for the left, democratic and secular forces. The correctness of the political-tactical line adopted by the CPI(M) has been proved  in the elections.