Will regional parties weigh down BJP?

Guwahati, April 10 (IANS) With Assam poised to vote in the second phase of the assembly elections on Monday, there are speculations about the BJP’s prospects following its alliances with regional forces like the AGP and the BPF.

Given the high-decibel campaigns by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and state Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for the Congress, people, largely in the rural areas, seem to be in the dark about their parties’ political alliances.

Now that the ‘lotus’ (BJP) and the ‘hand’ (Congress) are the most visible signs in the state’s high political drama, smaller or regional parties seem largely reduced to the periphery.

According to sources, rural voters in upper Assam that went to the polls in the first phase on April 4, were left confused when they did not see the ‘lotus’ symbol on the electronic voter machines.

That was because those seats were left by the BJP to its ally, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

So, they pressed on the next most well-recognised symbol, the ‘hand’ of the Congress.

Not surprising at all, since the AGP has been rendered largely irrelevant for many years and people have not been familiar with the once ruling party’s ‘elephant’ symbol in the onslaught of the ‘hand’ and the ‘lotus’.

When contacted by IANS, BJP sources in Guwahati confirmed that they were aware of this fact.

Local TV channels in Assam have given high visibility to Modi’s as well as Gogoi’s campaigns, but little space and time have been given to the electioneering of the AGP and the Bodo People’s Front (BPF).

Exit polls apart, the trend emerging is that sections of the electorate are casting their votes in favour of personalities rather than parties.

A source told IANS from Dibrugarh: “I went to this mechanic who happens to be a Bengali Hindu. When asked, he told me that his community’s people will vote for so-and-so and not to any party. Because this so-and-so candidate has done good work for our constituency, he said.”

Dibrugarh has elected BJP’s Prasanta Phukan as its legislator for two consecutive terms largely because of the goodwill he has earned with the local populace and the “work he has done”.

However, sources told IANS that after they voted for the party (BJP) in the municipal elections without thinking of the candidate, the city was regretting.

“The city has become so dirty. There is hardly any civic work done,” a resident, like many others, lamented.

“For the first time in our memory, flood waters entered our homes last year. The Congress’s C. Barua, who headed the municipal board earlier, did much better work,” one source said.

“Now I remember, when we voted in the municipal elections based on party symbols, I asked my wife whether we knew who was the candidate we voted for.”

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