Assam

Introduction :

Assam, which occupies 2.39 percent of India’s total area, is one of the 8 states comprising Northeast India. Its capital is Dispur, and it has 23 districts in all. The two main languages spoken in the state are Assamese and Bengali.

Demographics :

According to the most recent Census (2011) Assam has a population of 31,205,576 and a gender ratio of 958 (females to 1000 males). The literacy rate is close to India’s average literacy rate, at 72.19 percent. Assam’s largest religious communities are Hindu and Muslim, according to the 2011 Census.

Assam’s ethnic communities include immigrant Muslims, Hindus, Nepalese, indigenous caste Hindu community, and tea garden community. The state has a much larger rural population, compared to its urban population, at 26,807,034 people and 4,398,542 people respectively.

Economy :

Assam’s economy is primarily supported by the service sector; the percentage of GSDP from agriculture is on the decline, even though Assam has historically been an agrarian state. Assam is one of India’s poorest states, and corruption in the state government has done anything but alleviate the economic problems faced by its residents. According to a UNDP factsheet, the GSDP growth rate is 7.73 percent, the GSDP is currently at $9173.99 million, the largest share of which is from the service sector (61.89 percent), followed by the agriculture sector (24.44 percent) and the industrial sector (13.68 percent).

As per a report on Assam’s economy in 2013-14, the number of unemployed people in the state was 1,622,729.

Political Parties :

The Indian National Congress (INC) has been a major power in state politics since 1947. A Janata Party government briefly took over control in 1978; however, INC returned to power within 2 years and stayed in power till 1985, when the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) was elected and stayed in power for 5 years. From 1985 to 2001, the INC and the AGP have been in control alternatively, after which the INC has been in power continuously.

In the 2016 state elections, the BJP-formed coalition is the main challenger to the incumbent government. The BJP wants 88 of the 126 seats in the state legislature, the rest of which will go to other parties in the coalition.

Currently, the Chief Minister of the state is a former Congress leader, Tarun Gogoi, who has held this position for 3 successive terms, and the Governor is His Excellency Janaki Ballabh Patnaik.

The incumbent government faces 2 major issues in the upcoming election- allegations of corruption, and the rise of Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which has eroded the Muslim voter base of the INC. The main problem faced by the BJP is that the national government has failed to fulfill many promises it made during the 2014 general election- providing Scheduled Tribe status to six communities of the state and forcing Bangladeshi infiltrators to leave. This election season has already been tainted by communal violence. The first round of the 2016 state election was held on April 4, and the second round will be held on April 11.

Issues :

The central issue in this election is the issue of protecting the identity of Assamese people. The BJP manifesto, released on March 24 2016,  also includes preventing “insurgency and terrorism”, development of infrastructure, establishment of a network of educational institutions, and creating jobs by boosting small scale industries. Preventing further migration from Bangladesh by strengthening the India-Bangladesh border in Assam is another objective of the BJP.

The INC, in its manifesto, has mostly focused on solutions for the economic problems of the state. It has promised “one job per family” and creation of 10,00,000 jobs in the government and private sectors over the course of 5 years. Additionally, Congress promised to “fill all vacant teaching posts in schools and create two lakh more such posts in next five years”. The manifesto also promised to classify families with less than $3,795 as poor and give benefits BPL targeted schemes, among other objectives.

The results of the 2016 state elections, which came out on May 19, 2016, are as follows: