BJP registered a spectacular victory in the state of Assam under the leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma. Congress, which allied with many parties including Badaruddin Ajmal led AIUDF, could win only 29 seats in the assembly of 126.
Congress’s decision to ally with AIUDF, which openly advocates for the infiltration of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, proved very costly to the party as its vote share declined by 1.29 per cent. BJP leaders like Himanta Biswa Sarma kept the electoral campaign focused on Congress’s alliance with a party that openly advocates for illegal immigrants and took away almost all Hindu voters from the party.
The formula for the Congress and its partner AIUDF in Assam was simple – consolidate Muslim votes. Muslims constitute roughly 35 per cent of the state’s electorate. Although the consolidation of Muslim votes was easy for the two parties, they also had another plan – hinging upon the fact that the consolidation of minority vote would bear results. That plan was to achieve the division of Hindu and indigenous votes in the state between itself and the BJP.
However, the consolidation of Muslim votes also led to reverse polarisation in favour of the BJP, and this resulted in the party making a clean sweep in Hindu dominated constituencies. Moreover, the alliance of Congress with AIUDF did not go well with the tribal community of the state and they rallied behind the newly formed United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) that fought in alliance instead of going with Bodoland People’s Front because the latter chose to ally with a pro-illegal immigrant party.
The decision of Congress to ally with AIUDF diluted the head start that it got with anti-CAA protests because the voters started seeing it as a party that is not in support of the rights of indigenous people, but a pro-illegal immigrant party. Himanta Biswa Sarma openly used it against the UPA alliance and said that if it comes to power, Ajmal will hold the first cabinet meeting either in Bangladesh or Pakistan.
The Congress, under Tarun Gogoi, did not form an alliance with the AIUDF in the 2006 and 2011 polls, as the former Chief Minister was himself of the view that such an alliance would end up disproportionately hurting the party’s prospects in Hindu-dominated constituencies, apart from it getting completely obliterated in the 27 seats which Upper Assam has to offer. Yet, to somehow save the fortunes of the Congress, it was Tarun Gogoi who led to the fruition of a pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the AIUDF.
The AIUDF was formed with the sole purpose of defending the indefensible – illegal Bangladeshi Muslims. The AIUDF was founded in 2002 in the immediate aftermath of the repeal of the controversial IMDT Act by the Supreme Court, which had put the onus of proving that a person is a foreigner on the police or the complainant. In the absence of the said Act, the onus once again rested with the infiltrator to prove his/her Indian citizenship. The AIUDF staunchly opposed the same.
The Congress allying with such a party has not fared well for the indigenous Hindu and pagan communities of Assam. The BJP benefitted immensely from this reverse-polarisation and has, in fact, made the issue of Islamism a major poll plank in the state.