GUWAHATI, March 18 - Even as the AGP has renewed its alliance with the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and both will be contesting the polls together, many leaders and workers of the regional party are worried on account of the problem of ‘non-transfer of votes’ from their senior alliance partner.
Some AGP leaders told The Assam Tribune that each time the two parties had contested elections jointly, the transfer of votes from the regional party to the BJP went smoothly, but the reverse did not happen.
“That (transfer of vote) is a big worry for us. The BJP’s votes do not get transferred to us and that is a fact. It was the case during the 2001 Assembly elections, the 2009 parliamentary polls and also in the 2016 Assembly polls. In fact, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has even alleged that there was a conspiracy by some elements within the BJP to defeat him in his Barhampur constituency in the 2016 Assembly elections,” said a senior AGP leader on condition of anonymity.
He added that while the AGP’s votes get transferred to BJP candidates in the constituencies where the saffron party is in fray, the core BJP voters do not cast their ballot in favour of the AGP candidates in those seats which fall under the quota of the regional party.
“That has been our experience each time we fought elections in alliance with the BJP. Our candidates do not get their (BJP’s) votes,” said the leader.
Asked what may be the reason behind the BJP’s votes not getting transferred to the AGP when both parties contest elections jointly, he said, “The support base of both the parties overlap to a very large extent. That makes the BJP apprehensive that any gain for the AGP will mean a loss for them in the long run. Besides, the BJP has a clear agenda to edge us out and occupy our political space. The BJP has done the very same thing with many other regional parties across India.”
Another leader of the regional party said the BJP has been the ultimate gainer each time the two parties have contested elections in alliance.
“Since 2001, whenever our party has allied with the BJP, our supporters have voted for BJP candidates en masse. There is 100 per cent transfer of votes from us to the BJP. But, till today, there is no record of even one per cent of the BJP’s core voters casting their ballot for us. We conduct reviews after each poll and that is how we know this fact. This time also the situation will be no different,” said the AGP leader.
He added, “Our main support base is among the upper caste and Assamese OBC voters as well as the Assamese Muslims. These votes get transferred to the BJP. Besides, the upper caste and Assamese OBC support base of the AGP and the BJP overlap. But, another section of the BJP’s core support base, including the Bengali Hindus and the Hindi-speaking voters, do not shift their votes to our candidates. On top of everything, this time, there is a lot of disenchantment among our own supporters over the manner in which the alliance was renewed.”
The BJP will contest from 10 of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam in the coming general elections, while three seats (Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor) has been allotted to the AGP and one (Kokrajhar) to the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).