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BJP's Act East Policy May Bring Favourable Returns as Exit Polls Predict Saffron Surge in Assam Despite NRC Anger

Representative Image.

Representative Image.

The News18-IPSOS exit poll has predicted that the BJP will win 8-10 seats Lok Sabha seats in Assam, while the Congress is likely to be a distant second with 2-4 seats.

Guwahati: The News18-IPSOS survey predicted the BJP dominating the Assam Lok Sabha polls with 8-10 seats, while the Congress is likely to be a distant second with 2-4 seats. The AIUDF, the survey added, is likely to get two seats.

Republic C-voter survey predicted a closer poll with the BJP likely to get seven seats and the Congress five, with others getting a single seat. The Chanakya-News24 predicted a BJP sweep with 10 seats, the Congress getting only three seats and others getting one seat.

Assam, the most populous state in the northeast, and accounting for 14 of the 25 seats in the region, was key to the BJPs act east policy, under which it aimed to make up for any losses in northern states, particularly Uttar Pradesh, with gains here and in Bengal and Odisha.

The state, a traditional Congress stronghold, had become the gateway to the region for the BJP as it had won an unprecedented seven seats in 2014 and formed the state government for the very first time in 2016.

Five-time Congress MP and candidate from Dibrugarh LS constituency, Paban Singh Ghatowar said, “I personally don’t believe in exit poll results. I have contested in eight Lok Sabha elections, so far. People in Assam have voted silently this time. We won three seats last year and, according to our party analysis, hope to win more than double when results are announced on May 23.”

The poll battle was mainly between the BJP and Congress this time around too, with the influence of other prominent parties like All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and Bodoland People's Front (BPF) limited to their pockets of power.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a strong regional party which drafted the Assam Accord in 1985, had joined hands with the BJP for the 2019 polls despite differences over the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), both key poll issues in the state.

Voting in Assam was held in three phases - five constituencies each went to polls on April 11 and 18, while the remaining four voted on April 23 - in the aftermath of the state-wide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

While the BJP-led Centre withdrew tabling the Bill in the face of active resistance from the local population, the issue dominated the political discourse in the state.

The Bill, which promised citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, was the BJP’s main poll plank in Assam, unlike other states in northeast, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating commitment to it in his rallies. The Congress had called it unconstitutional.

BJP’s push for CAB has infuriated the local Muslims, who played a crucial role in deciding the political fate of candidates in at least 10 Lok Sabha seats in Assam.

Another contentious issue was the National Register of Citizens of India (NRC) drive undertaken by the government to determine the citizens of Assam. With lakhs of names missing from the list, the whole process turned some sections against the ruling BJP.

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