BJP will now be ruling Assam – the first time ever for the party to rule a state in India’s northeast. The party won 60 seats alone and its allies won 26 more for a total vote share of 41 per cent. The victory has been sweet but it has been a hard earned one for BJP.
Were it not for the RSS, the BJP might not have tasted this success. Even the BJP leaders acknowledge RSS’s role in the success in Assam.
The strategy to win Assam began decades ago with the arrival of Devdas Apte from Maharashtra. He was sent as a Jan Sangh representative in 1963 to the state. He worked tirelessly to woo the Assamese population to the Sangh ideology. Yet the Congress remained powerful in the state for these many years.
The Jan Sangh became the BJP and Assam became a den of thousands of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The RSS meanwhile continued doing their work in the state.
A protestor holding a placard calling for check on illegal immigration in the northeast. AP/Tsering Topgyal
Today, the RSS runs 590 Saraswati Shishu Mandirs in Assam. Additionally, there are over 500 Ekal Vidyalalayas – schools having a single teacher – operated by the RSS which helped them win over the people and the intellectuals. RSS is in fact the only organisation in India to be running so many schools in a single state. Additionally, the RSS opened over 100 hostels for students of the northeast in Assam.
But education is not the only aspect RSS looked into; public health was given importance too.
A door-to-door campaigning by BJP workers. PTI
Some 7000 health workers under Seva Bharati worked tirelessly in various parts of the state to provide basic medical health facility to the people.
Trained in homeopathy, the workers traversed the length and breadth of Assam and went to even the remotest corners of the braving rivers as unpredictable as Brahmaputra and deep jungles. The RSS also brought into the state 200 doctors from across the country and distributed medicines to the poor by collecting them from those who could donate.
Tarun Gogoi, the outgoing CM of Assam, was seen largely subscribing to vote-bank politics instead of working towards the progress of the state.
While the focus was on education and health, the RSS also kept an eye on its own cadre strength. Around 1250 RSS branches operate from Assam. All of this was done without asking anyone to vote for BJP. The Sangh worked selflessly and without discrimination.
However, the anger against Bangladeshi Muslims was not allowed to subside.
Powerful Hindu religious leaders in Assam shared the same anger against illegal immigration as the locals. These leaders, called Satradhikaris
, sided with the Sangh.
Apte too had said that the Bangladeshi Muslims are a threat to Assam’s culture. So this time Assamese united to save the state from the direct threat from illegal immigration. At the same time, the anti-incumbency mood in Assam pushed everyone including minorities towards BJP. That the party got a fair share of Assamese Muslim votes in at least 15 minority-dominated constituencies was a proof of that.
Their intelligent choice of chief ministerial candidate in Sarbananda Sonowal, a tribal, paid off too.
Sonowal, the tribal who’ll be the next CM of Assam. SIfy
According to reports, BJP’s Ram Madhav was the main strategiser while Himanta Biswa Sarma spearheaded the organisational ground work. With this win, the BJP is now ruling in the top two Indian states with the highest Muslim population – the other being J&K.