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The Importance of Being ‘Assam’ese: Why Modi wants the state desperately

By Maitreyee Boruah

Guwahati, May 17: It is interesting to see how Assam--geographically situated far away from Lutyens' Delhi and often relegated to the background in political matters--has suddenly become so important that all eyes are focused on the outcome of the results of the Assam Assembly Elections 2016.

The election results, scheduled to be declared on May 19, will decide the fate of who's who of Indian politics.

Narendra Modi

Modi wave in Assam?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is desperately looking for the BJP to come to power in the state for the first time to keep the "Modi Wave" intact, which is currently facing severe threat due to various reasons. After losing two major elections in Delhi and Bihar last year, Modi the maverick election campaigner, is looking for redemption in Assam. The win in the state is a must for the BJP to keep its hope alive in the high-stake Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections next year.

Assam to ditch Congress?

The scion of Congress Rahul Gandhi can't afford to lose Assam. Congress probably would further delay Rahul's anointment as the party president if the party fails to retain its power in Assam and Kerala. As predicted by most of the exit poll results, in case Congress loses both Kerala and Assam elections, then it will be in power in just five states. With only 44 members in the current Lok Sabha, in all likelihood this election season could prove the end of the road for the Congress.

Everyone is talking about Assam

As soon as voting in four states (Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and one Union Territory (Puducherry) came to an end on Monday (May 16), there was a deluge of exit poll results. It is the exit poll results of Assam which saw everyone talking about.

All of them stated BJP's win in Assam. If these predictions tallied the actual poll results then it would be the end of 15-year rule of Tarun Gogoi as the chief minister of the northeastern state.

Not one to concede defeat easily, Gogoi put up a brave face. "I don't see why there will be anti-incumbency. I trust the people of Assam, they know how much development has happened under us," Gogoi told reporters.

A high-voltage election campaign

The Assam election season began on a high note. The massive campaign of the BJP, led by Modi himself, was something that the state had never witnessed before. The social media was used extensively to coax young and urban voters by the BJP. The local BJP netas like Himanta Biswas Sarma and BJP's chief ministerial candidate and union minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbananda Sonowal made it a point to directly interact with the people to coax them to vote for the party.

Along with winning over the voters, the BJP leaders constantly communicated with the media to keep its campaign process lively and interactive. On the other hand, 81-year-old Gogoi looked lonely in his battle against the BJP. It was in the later stage of the campaign when Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul came to Assam to lend support to Gogoi.

Rahul Gandhi-Tarun Gogoi

Wait till May 19

AssamAs always, political pundits have warned voters not to get swayed by the exit poll results. "Exit poll results are not actual results. Most often we have seen how unreliable they are. Let us wait till May 19, before declaring the formation of a new government," said a senior political journalist from Assam.

Till then everyone is keeping their fingers crossed.

(P.S. The people of Assam are known as Assamese or Axomiya. Suddenly every Assamese has become important, as probably for the first time their votes would decide the fate of big national leaders.)

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