In December last year, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had said during a pre-election trip to Assam that the RSS did not allow him to enter a temple. Five months since that incident, the Congress was shown the door in Assam and the BJP-led alliance came to power in the state for the first time ever.
Sonowal only third non-Congress CM of Assam since Independence
In the 69-year-old history since Independence, Sarbananda Sonowal became only the third non-Congress chief minister of the state after the Janata Party's Golap Borbora in 1978 and the Asom Gana Parishad's Prafulla Kumar Mahanta who served between 1985-90 and 1996-2001. It shows the dominance that the Congress had in this state.
What did Rahul Gandhi do to save Assam against the BJP?
But when it came to defending one of its remaining fortresses in India, Rahul Gandhi was either indifferent or clueless about things in Assam as he did not focus on doing more important things and not just engage in child-like blame game vis-à-vis the BJP and RSS. [How quietly RSS designed BJP's victory in Assam]
Why didn't Rahul make an alliance with AIUDF?
In Assam which has a big Muslim population and the main rival was a party which believes in Hindutva, it never really appeared to Rahul Gandhi to make an alliance with the AIUDF of Badruddin Ajmal?
Though Ajmal lost this election, but the vote-share of his party in this election rose from the 2011 figure of 12.6 per cent to 13 this year. The Congress, on the other hand, saw its vote-share getting reduced from 39.4 per cent to 31.
Couldn't Rahul make a last-ditch effort to arrest the division of the Muslim votes by joining hands with Ajmal, who felt no qualms to declare that Rahul Gandhi made it easier for the Narendra Modis and Amit Shahs. Is it ignorance, indifference or superiority complex of the family which still lives in the era of Indira Gandhi?
BJP learned from its mistakes in Delhi and Bihar; Congress just slept on
The BJP performed better in Assam because it was quick to learn from the mistakes it committed in Delhi and Bihar last year. In Delhi, the BJP erred in imposing former IAS officer Kiran Bedi from the top which worsened things for its feud-hit Delhi chapter. In Bihar, the saffron party overdid to cash in on the Modi factor but it did not work out against the sons of the soil---Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar who came together.
Modi, Amit Shah presented Sonowal-Biswa duo and went to the supporting role
In Assam, Modi and Shah went to the backseat and presented former AGP leader Sarbananda Sonowal and ex-Congressman Himanta Biswa Sarma before the electorate to do the job for the BJP. And both delivered just what was expected from them.
Sonowal gave the BJP an edge while Tarun Gogoi made Congress look an exhausted lot
The BJP also did a commendable job in projecting Sonowal as its CM candidate as by doing so, the party ensured that it was not contesting the Assam election like any other routine poll in the Hindi heartland. Sonowal has an impressive legacy of fighting against infiltration from Bangladesh and his biggest political victory came in 2005 when the Supreme Court quashed the Illegal Migrants (determination by tribunals) Act, 1983.
Hence, through Sonowal, the BJP found a perfect candidate who would blend its natural flavour of nationalism with the Assamese sub-nationalism. The alliances with the AGP and Bodo People's Front, too, played in its favour.
And then there was the RSS's brilliant work on the ground
The RSS's brilliant work on the ground also played a huge role behind the BJP's historic victory in this Assembly election. On the one hand, while the Congress high command and the party's state leadership remained indifferent or kept on barking the wrong tree, the RSS silently sweated it out---targeting various segments like the tea garden workers while the Modi leadership stressed development at the top.
Congress did not see the danger looming after BJP did well in Assam in 2014 LS poll
Just compare all that with the Congress's non-existent plans for the state. It is a tragedy that Rahul Gandhi and his party could not sense the danger even after the Congress was decimated in Assam in the 2014 Lok Sabha election as it won only three seats. The BJP played its same card of polarisation in Assam subtly, toppling the Congress after a 15-year stint in power.