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It is “Bihu” in Assam, the biggest festival for the Assamese. But 30 years after student leaders such as Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Bhrighu Phukan went straight from their hostel rooms in Guwahati University to occupy ministerial bungalows, the state is witnessing a new political wave -- the Modi wave.

Published: 19th April 2014 08:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th April 2014 08:35 AM   |  A+A-

It is “Bihu” in Assam, the biggest festival for the Assamese. But 30 years after student leaders such as Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Bhrighu Phukan went straight from their hostel rooms in Guwahati University to occupy ministerial bungalows, the state is witnessing a new political wave -- the Modi wave.

And if Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi says “it’s not Modi magic but Gogoi magic that will work here”, editor and human rights activist Ajit Bhuyan retorts that “magic is to befool and hypnotise people for a few minutes. His bluff has been called and he is a laughing stock among people.”

After the emergence of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) formed by perfume baron Sheikh Badruddin Ajmal, the Congress has lost its vote bank among Bengali-speaking Muslims as well as scheduled caste communities. Ajmal owns a perfume business worth hundreds of crore of rupees and has showrooms in New Delhi and Mumbai.

During periodic riots against Bengalis in Assam since the 1960s, Congress governments didn’t allegedly protect them. In 1983, the Nellie massacre took place killing thousands of Bengali Muslims as well as Hindus for three days at a stretch while police remained a mute spectator.

Caste Hindu Assamese reposed their faith in the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in 1985 after then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the historic “Assam accord” with the All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU)and led them to power.

This time there is a distinct polarisation between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the AGP becoming a non-player.

The AGP with the support of the United Liberation Force of Asom (ULFA) silently allowed the loot and killing of businessmen in the state, leading to the imposition of the President’s rule in 1990 and Army action.

The joke doing the rounds here now is: “Asom Gana Parishad is now Asom Gone Parishad” as most of its top leaders are either dead or have joined the BJP. The state BJP president was AASU president and also an MP from Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat.

Agendas of the two parties are similar except for the chauvinist Assamese line which the BJP never supported.

While the BJP and Congress offices are brimming with election activity, the AGP office is a deserted building.

However, during the last 12 years of the Congress rule, the state hasn’t witnessed much development but for shopping malls. With corruption at its height and some unscrupulous TV channel owners ruling the roost in connivance with businessmen from New Delhi, the people are feeling disgusted.

State BJP leaders are confident of “doing better than 2009 because of the Modi wave and non-performance and treachery of the Congress”. Sate BJP general secretary Shantanu Bharali, said: “We have performed very well in the first and second phases in which we will win at least five seats. In the third phase, elections are being held in six seats  where we already have three sitting MPs and are confident of winning at least three more.”

However, the Congress is also exuberant and hopes to win at least 12 seats. In 2009, it had seven Lok Sabha MPs and a Bodo People’s Front MP in an alliance.

Assam Congress chief spokesman Mehdi Alam Bora said: “A lot of development work has been done. People are doing well financially not only in the state capital but also in the districts. There is a feel good factor and we will increase our seats.

“There is no Modi wave here and with the AGP finished, caste Hindu Assamese too along with tribals and minorities will vote for us,” he claimed.

However, it is not a rosy picture for the Congress at all as there are many Lok Sabha constituencies which will witness nail- biting finish and tilt the balance either way.

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