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BJP top brass crowing Asom politics

Written by: Staff

Dibrugarh, Mar 28: The BJP has roped in almost the entire top leadership, sans Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to Asom for a major push hoping to be part of a possible non Congress -- government.

''I have never seen so much support for the BJP in the past in this state,'' said Mr L K Advani, while speaking to newsmen here. He came down twice in the past week to campaign for the party.

The BJP has sensed an outside chance in Asom as they have no serious presence in the other four states, which go to poll along with Asom.

This was why Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi flew nearly 4000 kilometres to be at Tinsukia to campaign for party candidates in upper Asom.

Mr Advani, Mr Modi, Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, BJP chief Rajnath Singh, Hema Malini and Smriti Irani are all in Asom, trying to keep the BJP flag high.

''We are not against the Asomiya Muslims. They are part and parcel of Asomiya culture and society. We are only against Bangladeshi Muslims who had infiltrated after the 1971 cut off time,'' party leaders opined.

BJP top leadership thinks that the party is within striking distance of power. They are hoping that if the AGP and its allies get more than 40 seats then they will throw their weight with an expected kitty of around 15 MLAs to form a government depriving the Congress another stint in power.

However, the BJP's position is not very strong in upper Asom.

''It has made strong inroads into the tea gardens but that may not translate into seats,'' said Mr Anup Hazarika, a retired school teacher.

The BJP has been a strong force in Bokakha, Mariani, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, but in all these places they are not in a winning position, which even the candidates admit in private. The BJP, through Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, has long been working systematically to break the Congress stronghold of the tea belt, which they maintain through the Asom Cha Mazdoor Sangh(ACMS), the trade union arm of INTUC.

''We have made strong inroads and today we are as strong as ACMS,'' said BJP leader and former tea tribal students union leader Kamkhya Prasad Tasa. In fact, the BJP has brought in both Arjun Munda and Babulal Marandi from Jharkhand to keep the tea gardens labourers happy.

''We should do well this time in Upper Asom and the number of people attending our meeting is an indication,'' Mr V Satish, BJP's organisational secretary in the north east, said.

But both the Congress and AGP think opposite. The tea belt provides the Congress around 35 seats, enough to return to Dispur again.

''Where is the BJP? Let them bring in Hema Malini. We do not need them. You will see the result,'' said Mr Tarun Gogoi. He is dismissive of the BJP presence in entire Upper Asom.

In the last election the BJP surprisingly won the Duliajan constituency. This time they hope to get a maximum of four from the 27 seats of Upper Asom.

In lower Asom too, except Guwahati city, they have hardly any presence where the fight will remain confined between the AGP and Congress. But in Barak Valley, which sends 15 MLAs to the Assembly, the BJP has a better base.

Notwithstanding all these, the BJP leadership is in a 'never say die' mood with General Secretary In-Charge Pramod Mahajan making it a prestige issue for himself after taking over the new charge.


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