How Amit Shah, Ram Madhav saved BJP from losing Assam

Uday Mahurkar
Uday MahurkarMay 20, 2016 | 13:07

How Amit Shah, Ram Madhav saved BJP from losing Assam

There was intense pressure from the Assam unit of the RSS on the state as well as the national BJP leadership to not opt for an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) because it saw the AGP as insignificant and thought that the BJP could win the election without it. A small section of the Assam BJP also supported the RSS on this.


However, both BJP president Amit Shah and general secretary Ram Madhav rejected the proposal outright, convinced that the alliance with AGP was necessary. It is clear from the results that not tying up with the AGP could have upset the BJP’s apple cart.

CM-elect Sarbananda Sonowal with BJP leader Ram Madhav after the win.

But the friction on the issue left some bad blood between the pro- and anti-AGP sections in the Sangh Parivar, which also reflected in the results, according to sources in the local units of the BJP and the RSS. 

Such was the longing of the RSS that the BJP should go to the polls minus AGP that some of the more disgruntled elements in the saffron body got together and put up rebel candidates against the BJP alliance in seven seats, two of which the alliance candidates lost by small margins because of a split in votes.

The RSS-BJP rift on the Assam alliance issue might come up for scrutiny before the top leadership of both the sister organisations given its serious nature.

There were reservations in the AGP too about an alliance with the BJP and many from within the party had, in fact, pressured Prafulla Kumar Mahanta to discard the proposal for the BJP alliance. However, Ram Madhav persevered in his pursuit. He went to the extent of getting in touch even with the second-rung AGP leadership to put pressure on the top AGP leadership.


In the process, Madhav even went to the homes of some of the junior AGP leaders to convince them and earned the label of an artful negotiator, a role he played well in the alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir too. 

For the ground-level strategy, Himanta Biswa Sharma, who left the Congress to join the BJP, proved very useful. The inputs gathered by Madhav and Shah were useful in charting out the right party campaign, which suited the tone and tenor of the Assamese people.

As a party leader put it: “Unlike Bihar where the campaign was shrill and even misdirected in the form of some unwarranted personal attacks that backfired, the campaign in Assam had the right mix. It was low-key, centred on local issues of development, corruption and infiltration but at the same time it didn’t play up the infiltration issue beyond a point.” And right from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ram Madhav to the lower rung, BJP leaders spoke in the same language while campaigning.

Plus, the BJP played on a possible post-poll alliance between Congress and Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF, thus creating doubts about both in the minds of the people. Most importantly, on the complicated multi-ethnic canvas of Assam, its skilful strategy addressed almost all the sub-national groups.


What was surprising for the BJP alliance was that it got a significant number of votes of the local Assamese Muslims who consider themselves different from the Bengali Muslims attached to Ajmal.

As the editor of RSS mouthpiece Organiser put it : “BJP’s campaign package was indeed very precise.” Most agree on that given the dividends it has brought to the BJP.

Last updated: May 20, 2016 | 13:07
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy