Union Home Minister Amit Shah being felicitated with an Assamese Japi during a public meeting at Ulubari in Chirang district of Assam on 31 March, 2021.| PTI
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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s massive infrastructure push in Assam and the state’s changed attitude away from ethnic identity seem to have helped the ruling party gain a decisive lead in the state.

According to the latest figures available with CNN-News 18, BJP and its allies are leading in 81 of the state’s 126 seats, Congress and allies in 43 and the other forces in three seats.

For the BJP, Assam has never quite been a traditional ground and yet, ever since its breakthrough in the state in 2016, the party has not only consolidated its hold over the state but also managed to change its main political narrative.

The infrastructural changes, including massive bridges, roads, hospitals and education institutes, are part of the visible transformation the BJP ushered into the state.

However, there is another more substantive yet silent change — the move away from ethnic identity towards a broader and more national framework. This also explains why the Citizenship Amendment Act does not seem to have cast a shadow on the BJP’s prospects at all.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and Himanta Biswa Sarma’s political acumen also seem to have helped the party cement their position.

Also read: ‘Not cows to be milked’ — Muslims in Bengal, Kerala, Assam are now assertive, want recognition

Sarbananda vs Sarma in BJP

However, if it wins, how the BJP navigates the chief minister question between incumbent Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has largely been hailed as the party’s election expert in Assam, will be interesting to see.

For the Congress, meanwhile, which has been sliding in the political landscape of the state, the loss of veteran Tarun Gogoi has been a huge setback.

With no clear face, no coherent leadership and a campaign that took shape only in the later stages of the elections, the Congress has never been the frontrunner in this race.

For regional parties like the AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) and AGP (Asom Gana Parishad), who allied with the Congress and BJP respectively, this election is crucial to ascertain their relevance in a state that the BJP is fast making its own.

According to the Election Commission, AIUDF is leading in nine seats while the AGP in 10.

Also read: The ‘two lines’ lesson Rahul Gandhi can learn from Congress’ Assam campaign


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