How BJP’s historic win in Assam has highlighted a glaring irony


Rifat Jawaid

BJP created history in Assam by wresting the power from the Congress on Thursday.

The BJP’s win came with the help from former Assam chief minister, Prafulla Kumar Mohanta’s party, Assom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front.


What also helped the saffron party led alliance in the north-eastern state was the 15 years of anti-incumbency against the Congress chief minister, Tarun Gogoi.

The last-minute switching of side by corruption-tainted, Himanta Biswa Sarma too proved to be a game changer for the BJP.

No sooner had the trend become clearer that the Congress’ game was up and Sarabananda Sonowal was all set to become the first ever BJP chief minister of Assam, congratulatory messages began to pour in on social media.

From the BJP President Amit Shah to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the ecstatic BJP functionaries were quick to credit the the people they, in their wisdom, felt truly deserved the honour for the historic win in Assam.

These were some of the messages posted on twitter.

And the list went on with the dominating theme of the congratulatory messages being that the man who had scripted the victory or whose personal charisma had played crucial role in the ouster of Gogoi was none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, today’s congratulatory messages by senior BJP leaders highlighted a glaring irony.

In November last year, when the party’s patriarch, LK Advani and other senior BJP leaders, Yashwant Sinha, Murali Manohar Joshi and Shanta Kumar demanded for fixing responsibility for the crushing defeat in Bihar, same leaders who are hailing Modi for the win in Assam today had shielded the prime minister from any criticism.

Faced with a near revolt against Modi, the BJP, in a brief statement had said, “The Party has been very fortunate to have been led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shri LK Advani for decades. They had set a healthy precedent of the Party collectively taking up responsibility for victories and defeats.”

Nitin Gadkari had told reporters, “Our party is a party or workers, not of a family. A win or loss is everyone’s responsibility. BJP lost elections under party veteran LK Advani too. We lost in Bihar because the three parties came together and the resulting arithmetic addition. We need to increase our votes by 5-7 percent. The BJP has seen many wins and losses. This is not a party of kinfolk. This party never became a party of an individual.”

However, today’s messages holding Modi responsible for the win in Assam may cause a bit of discomfort in the ‘rebel’ camp as they would want to ask a few questions on the perceived hypocrisy. Why is it that the defeat in Bihar was no reflection of Modi’s waning popularity, but the victory in a state facing 15 years of anti-incumbency, has, all of a sudden, is being seen as a testament to his ‘finest leadership.’

It would only be fair to ask as to why the talk of collective responsibility in defeat never included Modi, but almost every tweet posted in the wake of victory in Assam paid glowing tribute to the prime minister?

In Assam, BJP was accused of compromising its stand on corruption when it inducted Sarma, who was facing serious charges in famous Louis Berger bribery case. His involvement in the corruption case that had paved the way for his ouster from the Congress party and Gogoi’s ministry.

Sarma surely played a pivotal role in securing the historic win for the BJP, but it has, once again, severely undermined the BJP’s stand on corruption.

Assam may have been the dominating theme of today’s discourse in media, but let’s not lose sight on what happened elsewhere.

Reading the election results across five states impartially paints a frightening picture for the BJP.

Here are some points, which our so-called TV pollsters have not chosen not to highlight.

  • Congress won 114 seats across five states compared to 66 won by the BJP.
  • BJP fielded 188 seats in Tamil Nadu and all its candidates lost
  • In Kerala, the saffron party had 98 candidates in the fray. Only one could win.
  • BJP had fielded 291 out of 294 seats in West Bengal. The party could win only 3.
  • In Puducherry, all 30 candidates of BJP lost.

These are just big headlines and pose several questions as to how a national party, the largest in terms of membership size, has performed so miserably in key states despite years of groundwork and Prime Minister Modi’s high profile campaign.