Cong compensates loss in Muslim base in Assam

The Congress apparently continued to lose significant chunks of its Muslim vote-bank to the All India United Democratic Front, which emerged as the second largest party with 20 seats, 10 more than its 2006 tally.

But the ruling party seems to have compensated its loss by making huge dents in the caste Hindu Assamese vote-bank of the regional Asom Gana Parishad, which got just 10 seats and is now set to lose is principal opposition party status in the 126-member State Assembly.

The AGP, which contested in 104 constituencies, got 14 seats less than its 2006 tally and thus suffered the biggest setback since it was born in 1985 out of a six-year-long historic students’ agitation against influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The poll-results also dashed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s hope to cash in on the issue of illegal migration and consolidate itself in the State. The saffron party contested for 120 seats, but ended up with just four in its kitty, six less than its 2006 score.

“It is for the inclusive development and sustained economic growth that we could win a third term in power,” said Gogoi, adding that his government’s efforts to start talks with the proscribed United Liberation Front of Assam and other militant outfits and thus to restore peace in the insurgency-hit State. Gogoi led the Congress to power in 2001. The party emerged as the single largest party in the 2006 polls too, although its score came down to 53. The continued rise of the AIUDF is another significant outcome of the polls. The AIUDF was born after the Supreme Court in 2005 scrapped the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act.

But Assam’s Bengali-speaking Muslims, who are often generally branded as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, had perceived the legislation as a safeguard for them against undue harassment.

Slamming the Gogoi Government for not seriously defending the IM (DT) Act, the Muslim organisations led by Jamiat Ulema e Hind floated the UDF to give Assam’s Muslims — the ‘deciding factor’ in at least 53 of the total 126 constituencies — a political alternative to the Congress.

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