To reach BJP's target of 22 NE seats, Himanta eyes 12-plus in Assam

IANS Photo

Guwahati, September 17 (IANS): The Assam BJP has started preparations for Lok Sabha polls as the party’s chief architect Himanta Biswa Sarma has instructed the party leaders to go to the doors of people to let them understand the beneficiary schemes of both central and the state government.

There are a total of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast and Assam has the highest --14 seats -- among the all states in this region. The saffron camp has targeted at least 22 seats to win here and this can only be achieved if the BJP wins 12-13 seats in Assam.

In the previous Lok Sabha polls, three Congress candidates won in Assam -- Pradyut Bordoloi from Nagaon, Gaurav Gogoi from Kaliabor and Abdul Khaleque from the Barpeta constituency.

Gogoi’s Kaliabor constituency no longer exists following the delimitation exercise. There is now a new Kaziranga Lok Sabha seat with changed demography of voters. The BJP believes that they can easily win the new seat and Gaurav Gogoi has no chance of winning there.

Nagaon has always been a BJP stronghold over the last two decades with senior party leader and former Union minister Rajen Gohain winning the seat four times. Gohain was denied ticket last time as he was accused in a molestation case, however this time he is a potential candidate there. But there is a scuffle between Gohain and the next generation BJP leaders in Nagaon and if the infighting continues till the polls, then the BJP may face a hard time to win back this seat.

Khaleque’s seat Barpeta is dominated by Muslim votes. But Badruddin Ajmal’s party AIUDF will field a candidate there. If the contest becomes a triangular one, then the BJP has a good chance in Barpeta too.

Recently, Himanta Biswa Sarma conducted an in-depth review meeting with all its MLAs and MPs in the Tinsukia district. The leaders of BJP’s two allies --Asom Gana Parishad and United People's Party Liberal in Bodoland -- were also present in the meeting.

Sarma instructed the party leaders to give emphasis on spreading awareness of the both Centre and state government’s beneficiary schemes and he asked the party legislators to keep an eye on last mile delivery.

Meanwhile, the panchayat poll is due in the state in December this year. However, the Chief Minister clearly said that the local body polls are not happening this year. It will be deferred by at least six months. Once the Lok Sabha polls are over, the party will prepare for panchayat elections.   

Following the delimitation exercise, there was a major overhaul of boundaries in different gram panchayats. The state government has decided to conduct panchayat polls without party symbols. The administration has bought a new legislature to bring a few changes in the panchayat polls.

There has been some sort of dissatisfaction in the ground level relating to the recent delimitation exercise. The Chief Minister asserted that this should be given importance by the party leaders and the issues should be addressed very soon.

In the meeting, each Lok Sabha MP provided feedback to the Chief Minister about ground situation in their respective constituencies. At present, BJP has nine MPs in the state. Sarma is desperately looking for the increase in the tally. He clearly said to his party leaders that everybody should immediately start enormous ground work to ensure BJP’s win in 12 seats.

The woman wing of Assam BJP has decided to launch an innovative campaign to attract the newly married girls to the party’s ideology. The women leaders of the party will go to the households of all newly married girls. This will begin in October.  

The Assam Chief Minister apart from rendering the duty of convenor of Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA), shares a good equation with all the Chief Ministers in the region. The BJP has been looking for a win in the maximum number of seats in the northeast.

Sarma also took part in a meeting of northeast BJP leaders where he said that the saffron camp is targeting to win maximum seats in the northeast. He knows this is an uphill task and therefore the Assam BJP has begun its Lok Sabha campaign much before the Lok Sabha polls.