Having gone to the polls on 4 February, Goa is awaiting the results of the assembly elections with bated breath. Known to be pro-active in terms of exercising its democratic franchise, Goa’s 83 percent voter turnout was praised by all. The month-long wait for the results, however, is witnessing controversies around such issues as those of irregularities in the voting process through postal ballots, and the enrollment of around 600 army men as voters in the Navelim constituency. These controversies have cast doubts on whether elections in Goa were conducted in a free and fair manner.
This election verdict shows a paradigmatic shift in how Assamese society views the ‘Other’ and it is bound to have long term ramifications. AGP which claims to represent the interest of all indigenous communities of Assam went quiet on the differential treatment of Hindu Bangladeshis. Indigeneity came to be defined by ethnic as well as religious identity. BJP’s permutation and combination led to such a situation where Muslims of East Bengal origin found themselves pitted against all other. In times to come it is to be seen how such narrow formulation of identity overdetermined by religion plays out in a state which has seen many fits of violence on this very issue. And how regional parties grapple with such formulations will go a long way deciding the future politics of the state.
It is now out of the bag that NPP and quite possibly all regional parties within the state are unable to defeat the Congress except with outsider firepower i.e. Hindu Majoritarian Right Corporate Development Engine called BJP. Their inability is not only because of inept and incompetent leaderships but because they are unwilling to be game changers. By this I mean that these regional parties are as moribund in their love of hierarchy, money power and political capture as the INC. They are still trying to beat the Congress at its own game, a game which is already rigged from the start. They have no ideology worth mentioning (and no accountability to the people) so they continue this farce which has two big seasoned players within it as team captains – the national giants, BJP and INC.
Assamese exceptionalism and the ambivalence of the Assamese Muslim to the Sangh Parivar’s designs against all Muslims regardless of ethnicity or descent could prove to be at the root of BJP’s rise in the Assam polls.