For years North-East was impenetrable state for the centre ruling party the BJP. With the recent win in the state of Assam, the biggest of the seven north-eastern states the party is hopeful to gain popularity in neighboring seven sister states as well.
The win in Assam is likely to have a ripple effect in the seven north-eastern states, which have been traditionally reluctant to embrace the BJP in the past. However, the signal for the win was pertinently available 2 years before since the Lok Sabha elections. After elections in Assam in 2014 BJP, the marginal player in the Assam political scenario historically won 7 of the 14 Lok Sabha, making it evident the party can have a major stake in the state with careful planning and strategic alliances. Recent performances of progress oriented Narendra Modi leadership also created a positive effect.
Sarbananda Sonowal, a former student activist-turned-politician, was earlier president of the all-powerful All Assam Students Union, AASU, was the BJP face during the state elections. The tribal leader campaign, which revolved around economic progress in the state and also tacking the issue of illegal immigrants in the state, had a significant effect on the voters.
Secondly they were able to swing Himanta Biswa Sarma, a prominent minister in the Tarun Gogoi cabinet towards their party. Himanta was miffed with the outgoing Assam CM Tarun Gogoi over promoting his son Gaurav in the elections. Gogoi had a 15-year uninterrupted stint as chief minister after he ousted one-time regional hero Prafulla Mahanta of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in 2001. Finally, Sonowal and Biswa Sarma formed a dependable partnership and delivered results.
While recently taking oath of office, Assam newly elected Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal promised a ‘Bangladeshi-mukt’ Assam. He was sworn in as the 14th chief minister of Assam heading an 11-member ministry that also included representatives of allies AGP and Bodo Peoples Front (BPF). He said driving out the illegal immigrants would be among his top priorities. Needless to say, there are huge challenges while tackling the issue of illegal immigrants and BJP led state will have to prove to gain the respect and trust of people in the neighbouring states. “Assam will be the centre point to bring about effective all-round development of the entire North-East and this region will emerge as powerfully developed part of the country as a part of our Act East Policy,” he said.
This win has definitely opened the hilly roads of North-East for BJP, which they hope will help to expand their base in the North-East India. After the setback in Bihar and its earlier drubbing in Delhi, the BJP needed to win one big state. This will give the party a much-needed boost and will re-energise its cadres for the crucial test coming up ahead in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.