GUWAHATI, Dec 31 � The year 2014 will be the turning point in the political careers of a number of senior leaders of the major political parties of Assam, while the year may also turn out to be a major game changer for militancy not only in Assam, but also in the other States of the region.
With the Lok Sabha elections due in 2014, the political parties have already started gearing up to face the polls and the outcome of the results may decide the political futures of a number of senior leaders of Assam. The Congress was plagued by dissident activities during 2013 and though the dissidents are now keeping a low profile because of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi may face the full force of dissidence after the polls.
Gogoi has already announced that he would step down if the Congress bags less than seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam. The Chief Minister has the habit of going back on his words, but if the Congress does not retain its seats, he along with the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president will definitely face the music.
The regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) also did not fare well in any of the elections it faced in 2013, including the elections to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and the polls to different autonomous councils. In the new year, the regional party has decided to go to the people of the State and it has also announced its decision to forge alliance with small groups representing different ethnic groups of the State.
It has not been smooth sailing for the AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta as a number of senior leaders of the party resigned from their posts in the party following successive debacles faced by the AGP in different elections in 2013. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the regional party managed to win only one seat and if the party fails to improve its position in the ensuing Parliamentary polls, Mahanta may face more opposition from within the party.
Same will be the case with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State unit president Sarbananda Sonowal. In the last Parliamentary polls, the BJP won four seats following a tie- up with the AGP. But so far, the BJP has been claiming that it would face the ensuing polls alone and if the party fails to either retain the seats or improve its position, Sonowal will start facing opposition within the party. Sonowal himself is likely to contest the Lok Sabha polls, but he is yet to announce whether he would contest from Dibrugarh or Lakhimpur constituency.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won only one seat in the last Lok Sabha polls, but the party ensured defeat of the Congress in at least three constituencies by eating into the traditional vote bank of the Congress. This year, the party is hoping to improve its position.
Meanwhile, with the elections in Bangladesh due soon, the outcome will definitely have an impact on militancy in Assam. During the tenure of the Awami League Government in Bangladesh, the militants were not allowed to use the territory of that country as safe haven and a number of senior leaders of the militant groups were arrested and handed over to India.
But in case of change of Government in Bangladesh, the possibility of the militants re-establishing bases in that country cannot be ruled out.