GUWAHATI, June 2 - The All India United Democratic Front�s (AIUDF) decision to refrain from contesting in a majority of the constituencies during the recent Lok Sabha elections seems to have benefitted the Congress in Assam as the grand old party, by default, ended up being the recipient of a huge chunk of votes of the minority community.
Barring the two constituencies of Karimganj and Dhubri, where the AIUDF had fielded �strong� incumbent candidates, in all other seats of the State the Congress was able to get the support of the bulk of minority community voters, as shown by the election results data from the various Assembly segments.
However, in Karimganj and Dhubri, where both parties contested against each other and where the AIUDF fielded candidates who were considered as �strong�, the Badruddin Ajmal-led party has been able maintain its dominance among the minority electorate to a very large extent.
AIUDF, which over the years mainly drew its support base from among the Bengali-speaking Muslim electorate, fielded its candidates from only Karimganj, Dhubri and Barpeta constituencies in the recent General Election. These are also the three seats which the Ajmal-led party had won in the previous Lok Sabha polls held in 2014.
In the Silchar Lok Sabha constituency, where there was a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP, the principal Opposition party polled more votes in segments like Sonai, Borkhola and Katigorah where there are significant proportions of minority community electorate.
In the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat, where the Congress candidate came fourth in the parliamentary elections this time, the party did reasonably well in the minority dominated Bhabanipur Assembly segment. There were no AIUDF candidates in either Silchar or Kokrajhar in the recent elections.
Of the ten legislative Assembly constituency (LAC) segments comprising the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat, the Congress polled more votes compared to the AIUDF in all ten. The Congress� vote share in minority dominated segments like Jania, Baghbar, Sarukhetri and Chenga was quite large and helped the party to win the Barpeta constituency.
The Congress also took leads in the minority dominated Boko and Chaygaon LAC segments under the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency.
Even though it lost the elections in Mangaldai constituency in a direct contest with the BJP, the Congress party won over 1.5 lakh votes in the minority dominated Dalgaon segment as against just over 37,000 votes polled by the ruling party. It also gave a tough fight to the BJP in the Sipajhar LAC segment, which has substantial number of minority voters.
Congress� success in wresting the Nagaon seat from the BJP after a gap of 20 years can be attributed to a large extent to the absence of the AIUDF from the fray in the constituency as well as due to the huge gains the principal Opposition party made in the minority dominated Laharighat and Jamunamukh segments. The Congress party also led in the Raha LAC segment, which has significant presence of minority electorate.
In the Kaliabor parliamentary constituency, Congress� win was to a large extent facilitated by the massive leads it gained in the LAC segments of Dhing, Batadroba, Rupohihat and Samaguri, all with large concentration of minority voters.
Of the nine LAC segments comprising the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress led in only the minority dominated Naoboisa segment in the recent parliamentary election.
On the other hand, of the eight segments under Karimganj Lok Sabha seat, the AIUDF polled more votes than the Congress in all eight. However, BJP won the constituency in a triangular contest.
Likewise, in Dhubri parliamentary constituency, where over three-fourth of the electorate is from the minority community, the AIUDF led in eight out of the total ten LAC segments in the recent Lok Sabha election.
Congress secured more votes compared to the AIUDF in only two segments � Golakganj and Goalpara East.
Interestingly, the highest number of votes in both Golakganj and Goalpara East Assembly segments were secured by the AGP in a three-cornered fight, with the Congress coming at second place and the AIUDF at third.
It is noteworthy that in the 2014 General Election, the AIUDF had fielded candidates in nine constituencies and those polls had witnessed a major division of minority votes between the Congress and the AIUDF in many of those seats. The Congress had later blamed the AIUDF of being responsible for split in the minority votes.
However, while the AIUDF�s decision to contest only in three seats this time facilitated the Congress to garner most of the minority community votes across Assam, it ultimately proved inadequate as the grand old party failed to increase its overall tally in the Lok Sabha from the State.