A defeat in Assam would be bad news for the Congress which is in power in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur, reports Kavita Chowdhury.
If exit polls are anything to go by then the biggest loser in these assembly polls, is likely to be the Congress. The party is slated to lose in Kerala and Assam, leaving it with only one big state, Karnataka, in its kitty.
Although the party is attempting to keep a straight face and brush it off as “anti-incumbency effect”, the long-term repercussions of these highly anticipated results are not lost on Congressmen.
The receding national footprint of the Congress would, therefore, coincide with the increasing footprint of the Bharatiya Janata Party, predicted to unseat the Tarun Gogoi government in Assam and open its account in Kerala.
“What such a result means for the Congress is extremely detrimental,” confesses a Congress insider from the northeast. “This will have a shake up effect on other northeastern states. Till now, BJP was the untouchable, especially among the tribals and Christians. But if BJP comes to power in Assam it means it will gain an acceptability among these sections and, therefore, gain an acceptability and entry into other northeast states as well,” added the Congressman.
This spells bad news for the Congress which is in power in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur. The Congress leader concedes that the loss of Himanta Biswa Sarma to the BJP dealt a body blow to the Congress in the northeast. The party recently lost its government in Arunachal Pradesh due to the “machinations” of the BJP.
All India Congress Committee members, however, believe it will be a fractured mandate in Assam. As senior leader and General Secretary BK Hariprasad said, “In 1977, we were down to just Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and then we were in power in only Andhra, but thereafter we bounced back; in 1980 we won several states.” Adding, “So these ups and downs keep happening, there’s not much to it.”
Nationally, the impact of BJP gaining a toehold in Kerala at the expense of the Congress, has far-reaching ramifications. The three cornered contest will also mean that the alternate terms in power that the Left Democratic Front and United Democratic Front regimes had got accustomed to, might be a thing of the past.
The only glimmer of hope at present seems to be the Tamil Nadu exit polls, where Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is slated to win with Congress as junior partner. A likely return of the Congress government in Puducherry (it has a 30 member assembly), also appears to bolster the low morale of Congressman.
Incidentally, the Congress is not too perturbed about Bengal, where a return of Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee is a blow for the Left but an increase of seat share for the Congress is on the cards in alliance with the Left.
While political pundits raise obvious questions about the receding national footprint of the party and the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, who is slated to take over the reigns of the party from Congress president Sonia Gandhi; Congressmen dismiss these speculations outright. “If a win of a state would be credited to the CM or Congress leader in that state, why should a loss be ascribed to Rahul Gandhi. After all these state governments in Kerala and Assam are going to polls based on their governance and achievements,” says Congress MP and spokesperson Sushmita Dev.
A BJP government in Assam, is certain to boost the morale of the government at the Centre and while the government could be more emboldened especially in the Rajya Sabha, but whether the Congress would fight shy of being the belligerent Opposition that it has been in the upper house is open to conjecture.