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Himanta Sarma, immigrants, RSS: 7 FAQs about Assam election 2016

Kunal Majumder | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:06 IST
QUICK PILL

  • Despite being the most acceptable leader in the state, why are CM Tarun Gogoi\'s chief ministerial ambitions (for the third time) on rocky grounds now?
  • With just six members in the state assembly, can the BJP actually come to power in Assam?
  • Will Gaurav Gogoi\'s entry into politics be a game changer?

In less than a week, Assam goes to vote. Election in India's biggest northeastern state isn't a simple fight between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP.

The campaigning began with possibilities of a narrow escape for three-time Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi but now things are too close.

The BJP, led by former AGP leader Sarbananda Sonowal and former Gogoi confidante Himanta Biswa Sarma is giving a close fight to the ruling party. The saffron party, which focused on development and 'parivartan' (change) as key themes initially, has now taken a more nationalistic turn with their leaders talking about the danger of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Watch: Assam politicians must pay attention to children, says activist Miguel

Arupjyoti Saikia, historian and the head of the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT, Guwahati answers key questions around Assam election 2016.

How realistic is the BJP's shot to power in the state?

Assam has long eluded the Bharatiya Janata Party. Currently, the party has just six members in the state assembly. However, this election its luck might just change.

Also read: Assam Election 2016: Can an aggressive BJP end Congress' 15-year rule?

How important is Himanta Biswa Sarma?

The revolt of the former Congress leader has changed the entire game.

Here's why:

How big a factor are Bangladeshi Muslims?

This issue dominated Assam for decades. In 2006, the launch of All-India United Democratic Front by Badaruddin Ajmal further polarised the state's politics.

How would Gaurav Gogoi impact the polls?

In 2014, the entry of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's son, Gaurav, in politics created a stir in the state's ruling party. Former Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was seen as a possible successor to Gogoi and often credited for the party's performance in 2011, revolted and finally left the party after two years.

How the RSS is playing an important role in Assam for the elections

Since a while now, the RSS has been silently working among many of its core constituencies, including Bengali Hindus and Tea tribes. Assam's traditional association with Vaishnavite culture has also helped the Sangh make inroads into the otherwise cultural space.

What is the importance of Muslim votes in Assam?

AIUDF changed Assam politics by focusing on Bengali Muslims as their core constituents. Bengali Muslims are often accused of being illegal immigrants and have become a major target of Assamese parties. AIUDF has never been in power in the state. But will it change this time?

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his role in the upcoming elections Gogoi at 80 is still the most acceptable leader in the state. After three terms in power, he faces his biggest political challenge in Election 2016. Question about his continuation as Chief Minister stays, even if the Congress returns to power.

First published: 30 March 2016, 9:57 IST
 
Kunal Majumder @kunalmajumder

Editor for Speed News aka Catch Live and Operations at Catch, Kunal enjoys measuring his life in numbers. Of his 30 years of life, 12 have been spent working, 9 of them in journalism. The remaining 3 were spent in 2 call centres, talking to British and Australians about insurance and cellphones. In his journalistic capacity, Kunal has worked at 3 publications and headed 2 online teams. The '3' includes Images Multimedia, Tehelka and DNA. The '2' includes Tehelka and DNA. Catch is Kunal's 6th workplace, where he will head his 3rd team as speed news editor. As a reporter, he won 2 awards - Statesman Award for Rural Reporting and UNFPA-Laadli Award for Gender Sensitivity. That's his story in Prime Numbers (a section on this site from which he's taken inspiration).

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