GUWAHATI, May 15 - With the Karnataka poll results throwing up a hung Assembly, non-Congress Opposition parties in Assam today said the Congress suffered a setback in the southern state due to its ‘arrogance’ and called for formation of an anti-BJP front here before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Leaders from the Left and AIUDF said the Karnataka verdict as well as results of some other state polls in recent times have proved that Congress by itself can no longer take on the saffron party.
“If the Congress had entered into a pre-poll pact with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka, then the results today would have been very different. In Assam during the 2016 polls, Congress had made the same mistake. It had targeted us instead of BJP. The arrogance of Congress is responsible for the growth of BJP,” AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said. He, however, said the BJP juggernaut is unlikely to keep rolling in Assam in the 2019 polls.
“Here the people have already seen the real face of BJP. The impact of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, will be directly felt in the Lok Sabha polls. The AIUDF is committed to fighting the BJP to prevent it from returning to power. But, the time has now come for Congress and AGP to take the lead in trying to coalesce together all non-BJP forces,” said Islam.
Munin Mahanta, assistant secretary of CPI State unit, said Congress must draw lessons from the Karnataka results. “If Congress and JD(S) had fought the polls together, they could have easily defeated BJP. The Karnataka results have amply demonstrated the need for anti-BJP parties to come together,” he said.
Mahanta said the ongoing protests across Assam against the Citizenship Bill could be a precursor to formation of such an anti-BJP front in the State during 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“A new alternative platform, based on common understanding and mass mobilization, will emerge in Assam in the run-up to the 2019 polls. People of Assam have now come out openly against BJP. But, Congress by itself cannot defeat it,” said the veteran leader.
The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee said BJP’s growth in Karnataka is on account of the saffron party’s success in swaying the electorate with “false promises”.
“Our vote share in Karnataka is still above that of BJP. We may have lost seat-wise, but we’ve not lost out acceptability or popularity among the voters,” APCC general secretary Apurba Bhattacharya said.
He said the situation in Assam is very different and exuded confidence that Congress will win maximum seats in the State in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The people of Assam have realised that Congress is better for them than BJP. In the 2016 polls, we lost as a huge chunk of our voters shifted to AIUDF. But now, we are regaining our old organisational strength from the grass-root level in Assam and we will prevail in 2019,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP exuded confidence that the party’s winning streak will continue in the 2019 polls. “The momentum, which started in 2014, is still continuing. Under the leadership of Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, our cadres are reaching out to masses everywhere. In Assam, we are now appointing Page In-charges for every page of the voters list. Our schemes have benefited all sections of Assamese society,” said State BJP general secretary Rupam Goswami. He discounted the possibility of an Opposition unity in Assam.
Asked about the likely impact of the citizenship issue in Assam during the LS polls, he said, “Now emotions are running high and so it is difficult to speak with logic. When logic will enter, emotions will vanish. Our party is reaching out to people and explaining the reality regarding the Bill.”