Even a cursory glance at the Northeast bypoll results reveals a clear victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies and worrying signs for the Congress. Analysts say the vacuum in the opposition space could open up opportunities for parties like the Trinamool Congress, which is looking to augment its national presence and shape up as an alternative to the BJP.
In Assam, the BJP and alliance partner United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) won all five seats that had elections. The Congress was left in third place in two constituencies and lost by huge margins in three others.
BJP’s Sushanta Borgohain won the Thowra assembly seat by 30,561 votes. With 6.65% votes, the Congress stood third, behind Akhil Gogoi’s party Raijor Dal.
UPPL candidates Jiron Basumatary and Jolen Daimary won the Gossaigaon and Tamulpur seats by margins of 28,252 votes and 50,000 votes respectively. The Congress was far behind in Gossaigaon with about 20% votes and in Tamulpur it was in fourth place with just 5.34% votes.
Phanidhar Talukdar won the Bhabanipur seat by a margin of 25,641 votes. Here the Congress ended up with 33.58% votes.
BJP’s Rupjyoti Kurmi won the Mariani seat by a margin of 40,104 votes. The Congress got 15,385 votes and a 17.3% vote share.
The Congress’s performance was uninspired in both eastern and western Assam. The party has just 2 seats in Upper Assam, which was once its stronghold.
After the results were announced on Tuesday, state Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah said his party had “gracefully accepted the mandate of the people”. It is a foregone conclusion that bye-elections are usually won by the ruling party.”
In Meghalaya, the Congress failed to retain the Mawryngkneng and Rajabala seats against the National People’s Party (NPP) and was not strong enough to challenge the United Democratic Party (UDP) in Mawphlang.
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) won the Tuirial seat in Mizoram and here the Congress finished third.
Observers feel this is the right time for West Bengal’s ruling TMC to step in. Trinamool Rajya Sabha member and former Congress leader Sushmita Dev said, “The Congress has gone to the third position in two seats in Assam and lost with huge margins in others. Also, the two seats of Upper Assam were with the Congress, where the MLAs defected. There is no narrative for different communities of Assam and people feel that even after winning the Congress is unable to hold onto its legislators.”
Dev told News18 that there is a huge vacuum of opposition in the Northeast and the TMC has a good chance. After the bypoll results, the party is looking set to focus more on the region.
The TMC has already decided to contest all seats in the Tripura municipal polls this month.
Trinamool insiders say there is anti-incumbency in the Northeast and people who are not voting for the BJP are choosing regional parties over the Congress. The TMC is working hard to spread its roots in the region, they say, and find suitable candidates to fight future elections.