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The state of Assam is a very important state of India when it comes to the politics, and governance of the country. From the very first day of being a state, Assam had an impact on the politics of the country, and it has always been in the news for that.

In Assam state, the BJP managed to retain political power in 2021. In Assam, BJP was defending against a resurgent opposition composed of the Congress alliance and a regional party, Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), formed out of the anti-CAA agitation from student-youth bodies of Assam. The BJP spectacularly won the state for the first time in 2016, going from five seats to 60 amid a powerful national wave.

In Assam, elections will be held in three phases on 27 March, 1 April and 6 April in 2021. Assam, which also began voting 27 March, reported 76.9% per cent turnout. The BJP hoped to win a second straight term in the state, with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal the biggest name on the ballot today. "We will get more than 100 seats," Mr Sonowal said. Mr Gogoi, meanwhile, visited a polling booth in Jorhat to cast vote. "It's a very emotional moment for me as it's the first time after many years that I'm coming to a polling station without my parents. Confident that people are going to vote out politics of lies and deceit and voting for politics that guarantees that their future is bright," Mr Gogoi was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The BJP has promised “appropriate laws and policies to tackle and end the menace of love jihad and land jihad”. A special task force is on offer to end the “menace of cattle smuggling in Assam”, as is a de-radicalisation policy “to identify and strictly quash organisations and individuals from fanning the flames of communal exclusion and separatism”. As part of its temple restoration push, it has promised to improve road connectivity and upgrade critical amenities — power supply to hotels, public transport, restrooms — around important temples, including the Maa Kamakhya Shakti Peeth, Navagraha Temple, and Shivadol, to attract visitors. If voted to office, the BJP will also stop illegal encroachments near religious places, the manifesto states. “We will stop illegal encroachments from Namghars (prayer houses) and help them with Rs 2.5 lakh each for proper reconstruction,” the party says.

Assam represented the success of an audacious political experiment for the BJP, in which it skilfully remolded the issue of indigeneity from ethnicity to religion, mobilizing an alliance from a diverse array of tribes and ethnic groups against the “Bangladeshi Muslim outsider.” It demonstrated the adaptability of Hindutva in a deeply diverse state where over 30 percent of the population is Muslim. However, the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the main part of the BJP’s promise to root out ‘“infiltrators,” soon ran into political hot water as it excluded only a tiny proportion of residents, as well taking up Hindu Bengalis (a base for the BJP) in its dragnet as much as it took Muslim Bengalis. The state government soon wiped its hands of the whole exercise, which had angered more people than it satisfied. The party was further rocked by the anti-CAA movement, which was perhaps strongest in Assam, where “indigenous” ethnic groups feared it would confer citizenship on Hindu Bengali immigrants.

Notwithstanding these political headwinds, the BJP has constructed a formidable political base, particularly in Upper Assam, through targeting of welfare benefits to key constituencies, and remains the favorite to retain the state. The communal divide still runs deep, and the BJP is stoking fears over the Congress’ alliance with the Bengali Muslim party, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), to yet again fabricate a Hindu majority out of hostility toward Muslim immigrants.

Indian National Congress always had a monopoly in the state since independence. For many years after Independence, the Congress was able to secure the majority of the seats in the Assam Legislative Assembly. After the General Flection of 1952 its strength in the Assembly was 76. After the General Election of 1957 its strength was 71 and after that of 1962 itenjoyed 76 seats in the House. Other parties were so very weak in strength that sines the General Election of 1952 not a single party emerged with the minimum strength to secure recognition as a full-fledged opposition party.

Deporting alleged illegal immigrants has been a key agenda item for Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which swept to power and formed the federal government in 2014. About 33 million people in Assam sought to be included on the list after the government began the process of updating the names in 2015. Modi’s Hindu nationalist party also came to power in Assam for the first time in 2016, promising action against illegal immigrants.

Assam faced immigration problem with a large number of people immigrating to the state after Bengal was partitioned in 1905. Assamese people opposed to the immigration of people thereby triggering communal tensions and the state saw one of the worst communal violence ever in the Assam Agitation in 1979. In 1985 the Assam Accord was signed thereby ending the agitation.

However, the year 1978 saw exception when the Janta Party emerged as a winner in the general Assembly elections but enjoyed power only for two years as they got defeated again by INC. Between 1985 and 2006, Indian National Congress and the Assom Gana Parishad took to political power alternatively. However, INC was in power since 2006.

The All India United Democratic Front or AIUDF is an Assam-based political party and is also spreading its reach in other states such as Odhisa, Mizoram, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi, and many others. It came up as a significant political party when in the 2011 legislative assembly election it won 18 seats and became the main opposition party in the state.

Facing the problem of massive migration from Bangladesh into Assam, the government tried to put up legislation in place to detect and deport foreign nationals. Eventually, the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983 (IMDT Act) came into being following the Assam Accord signed between the Government of India and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) to end the decade-long anti-foreigner agitation.

The IMDT Act is an instrument passed by Indian Parliament when there was no MP elected from Assam, to detect illegal immigrants (from Bangladesh) and expel them from Assam. While the IMDT Act operates only in Assam, the Foreigners Act (1946) applies to the rest of the country. It is applicable to those Bangladeshi nationals who settled in Assam on or after 25 March 1971. Under the Act, the onus of proving the citizenship of a suspected illegal alien rests on the complainant, often the police. On the other hand, according to the provisions of the Foreigners Act, the onus lies with the person suspected to be an alien.

Sarbananda Sonowal took the issue of Bangladeshi infiltration to the Supreme Court. By its judgment dated 12 July 2005, the court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, as unconstitutional and termed Bangladeshi infiltration an "external aggression" and directed that "the Bangladesh nationals who have illegally crossed the border and have trespassed into Assam or are living in other parts of the country have no legal right of any kind to remain in India and they are liable to be deported.

Sarbananda Sonowal was appointed as the President of State unit of Bharatiya Janata Party in 2012. In 2014 he was appointed to head the 16th Lok Sabha Elections in Assam. He was credited with raising the party's tally to seven from the earlier four in the 2014 Parliamentary polls. In the same Parliamentary Polls, he was also elected from Lakhimpur Constituency as Member of Parliament (MP) Lok Sabha and he was appointed as Union Minister of State-Independent Charge for Youth Affairs and Sports.

Sarbananda Sonowal was declared as BJP Chief Ministerial candidate for 2016 Assam Assembly election. He led the BJP and its alliance to a landslide victory in the 2016 Assam Assembly election winning 86 of the 126 seats. The party came to power on the promise of protecting maati (land), bheti (home) and jaati (the indigenous people) from illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Shri Sonowal won the Assembly election from Majuli Constituency. He was sworn in as the 14th Chief Minister of Assam in the first ever government of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state in the presence of Shri Narendra Modi, Hon'ble Prime Minister of India and a host of other dignitaries on 24th May 2016 at Guwahati.

A controversial yet bold step was included in the government’s draft population policy, which stated that persons with more than two children will not be eligible for government jobs or any kind of government service and cannot contest elections to panchayat and civic bodies. The proposal was widely welcomed in Assam though it was clear that the target group is immigrant Muslims who usually have more than two children.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on 22 February 2018 created a furore when he made comments about the Assam-based All India United Democratic Front, claiming it had grown faster than even the Bharatiya Janata Party. Given that Rawat was speaking about migration from Bangladesh, the implication was that the AIUDF has grown as a result of this alleged influx. Rawat referred to the alleged migration as an act of “lebensraum”, the German word that means “living space” – an ideological principle used by Nazi Germany to support the country’s territorial expansion. As if this wasn’t enough, Rawat blamed Pakistan and China for pushing Bangladeshi migration.

Inequities, lack of development, perceived discrimination and lack of opportunities for employment have contributed to discord and strife. Such situations are rarely, if ever, conducive to development.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2021 18:15:55 ZULU