Assam Hill Council Polls: BJP Wins; Cong, tribal parties go for the whole thing
Even before the 26-seat Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is voted on Wednesday, the results, according to many, are a foregone conclusion.
The resources of the ruling BJP, its organizational strength and the fact that it leads the state government (the self-governing councils tend to vote for the ruling party in the state) give the party a distinct advantage when election to one of the oldest tribal councils in Assam under the Sixth Schedule.
Still, the KAAC elections will see a flurry of parties clash on June 8 – from Congress to the brand new All Party Hills Leaders Conference (APHLC), from former player Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) to Aam Aadmi by Arvind Kejriwal. Party (PAA).
KAAC (formerly called Mikir Hills District Council), headquartered in Diphu, was formed in 1952. Under its jurisdiction are the two districts of Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong, covering four Assembly seats and a parliamentary constituency (Diphu).
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The Congress ruled the KAAC from 2001 to 2015, but after the BJP formed its first government in Assam in 2016, most of the council’s executive (EM) members, including managing member (CEM) Tuliram Ronghang, have defected to the ruling party the same year. . When the BJP won 24 of the “historic” 26 seats in the KAAC elections in 2017, it had already led the council for almost a year, thanks to defections.
BJP’s Aggressive Campaign Pitch
Ahead of the KAAC elections, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and senior BJP brass campaigned aggressively in the two hill districts, holding at least 18 rallies – unlike any tribal council campaign before.
Speaking to reporters on the last day of the campaign, Sarma said KAAC was a stepping stone to Diphu Lok Sabha constituency. “If you win KAAC, you win Diphu,” Sarma said, adding that it was “also important to connect with our Karbi brothers.”
While some say Sarma’s aggressive campaign for KAAC is just a reflection of the BJP’s ‘want it all’, others point to it being part of an attempt at ‘damage control’ after the distribution tickets.
“At least 10 sitting members – many of them former BJP members – were dropped, and new, younger players were given tickets. The high-decibel campaign can help appease the loyalists of those who have been dumped,” said a Diphu observer.
A BJP politician said concern over ticket distribution was unlikely to upset the overall results in favor of the BJP, and that it was “normal” for all parties to switch candidates due to “the anti-incumbency”.
Observers said that while it might be difficult to eclipse the BJP on the council, second and third places are up for grabs.
Knocked out of the council in 2017, Congress, as it dwindles in Assam, is trying to regain a lost stronghold by contesting the 26 seats.
Also building on its old record, the ASDC, which first contested and won the 1989 KAAC elections, hopes to win more than a few seats. Formed in the 1980s to demand a “self-governing state” under Article 244(A) of the Constitution (which allows for the establishment of a “self-governing state” within Assam in certain tribal areas), the ASDC is contesting 17 of the 26 seats. In 1989, when the party recorded a historic victory, it won 22 of 26 seats, beating Congress. But the party broke up in the following years.
“This is the first time we have fought as a united front since then,” said ASDC’s Daniel Teron. In its reunited avatar, the party was able to reclaim its old symbol (that of a boy and a girl) and hopes it will work its 1989 magic. Teron added that the party has approached Congress and the APHLC to form a “united front against the BJP”, but both refused.
Angtong Ingti Kathar, spokesperson for APHLC, a new formation that says it focuses on tribal issues, said they turned down partnership with ASDC because they could not agree on some issues. “APHLC has two main objectives: a corrected electoral list for Karbi regions under the sixth schedule, with only tribal names, as well as 244 (A),” he said.
Observers said their “tribe-specific” orientation could help win over voters in predominantly tribal precincts. Since the party is not officially registered with the Election Commission of India, all 26 candidates are running as independents.
Then there is the AAP, which is trying to gain a foothold in Assam. The party admits that its chances are “difficult” in the 10 seats it is seeking. “This is our first time in a stand-alone council in Assam,” said Rajesh Sharma, member of AAP’s national council and responsible for its affairs in Assam. “We don’t know how much of our campaign will be converted into votes, but we have done our best, focusing on issues that affect the common man, such as drinking water issues,” he said. declared.