ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Communal Politics in Assam

Growth of AIUDF since 2016

The formation and continuous electoral success of the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF, which is now known as the All India United Democratic Front) has made the state a playground of communal politics. Its success has broken down the traditional Muslim vote bank of the Congress Party. As a result, since the 2006 Assam assembly elections, the Congress Party has adopted a soft Hindutva approach to polarise the non-Muslim voters against the AIUDF. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party's open Hindutva line appeared more attractive to non-Muslims of Assam in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Since the formation of the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF),1 shortly after the repeal of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IM(DT)) Act, 1983 in 2005, and later the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), politics in Assam has become increasingly communal. Muslims in Assam have remained a vote bank for the Congress Party since independence. However, a large section of them, mainly the immigrant Muslims, have been increasingly rallying behind the AIUDF. As a result, the Muslim vote bank of the Congress Party has been shrinking. In this situation, the Congress Party has followed a two-pronged strategy to contain the growth of the AIUDF. On one hand, it has been trying to weaken the growth of AIUDF by labelling it as communal, and on the other hand it has been trying to consolidate the non-Muslim votes against AIUDF to win the elections in the state.

The growth of the AIUDF has also helped the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. This is evident from the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which the BJP, for the first time, won seven out of a total of 14 seats in the state, while the AIUDF got three seats. The Congress Party could win only three seats against seven in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. During the last decade, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the regional political party that won the assembly elections in 1985 and 1996, has been gradually marginalised in electoral politics.

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