The BJP’s political star is in the ascendant, with a historic victory in the Assembly elections in Assam and significant inroads in Kerala and West Bengal. The victory in Assam, where the BJP and its allies won 86 out of 126 seats, has put bitter memories of electoral humiliations in Bihar and Delhi in 2015 behind and has brought much cheer to the party on the eve of the second anniversary celebrations of the NDA government.
This is the first BJP-led government in the Northeast which ended the reign of the Congress, led by three-term Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Sarbanda Sonowal will take over as the new Chief Minister of Assam.
“The people of Assam have accepted our winning combination. This is going to be a great victory,” Mr Sonowal said after the election results. The victory of the BJP shows its growing presence in regions where it has not had much of a presence in the past. This victory is now expected to boost the party’s chances in other states in the region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the party workers for excellent performance in state assembly elections. Mr Modi had promised to bring progress to the region during his 2014 election campaign and after taking office emphasised on the significance of the Northeast as a part of India’s ‘Act East Policy’ which will connect it to Southeast Asia.
The BJP hopes to carry the momentum into 2017 when the next round of major elections will be held in Uttar Pradesh other states in India. The issue of illegal migrants was a major poll issue in Assam and Mr Sonowal has promised to address the issue and said that it was an important priority.
Assembly elections were held in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal as well. In Kerala the ruling Congress party-led UDF alliance was decimated by the LDF alliance led by the Left parties. In Tamil Nadu and West Bengal the ruling incumbents, led by two powerful women in Indian politics, won a clear majority to retain power.
The latest results mark the success of the ‘Congress-mukht Bharat’ (India free of Congress party), with the once powerful Congress party reduced to being in power in Karnataka and five other smaller states.
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