GUWAHATI, Oct 24 - Attributing BJP�s good show in the Assembly bypolls, results of which came out today, to the ruling party�s success in diverting attention of the voters by raising �emotive issues� and to what he termed as �misuse of government machinery and money power,� former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that Congress will undertake mass contact programmes and agitations over the next year and a half to �expose the government�s failures� and try to present a counter-narrative before the voters in run-up to the 2021 Assembly polls in Assam.
With the Congress drawing a blank in the bypolls, Gogoi said the grand old party will have to adopt some proactive measures to regain its lost ground.
BJP retained the Rangapara, Ratabari and Sonari constituencies (which it had won in the 2016 Assembly polls as well) in the bypolls, even as the AIUDF wrested the Jania seat from the Congress.
�I admit we made mistakes. Maybe there was some fault in candidate selection for the bypolls in Assam. In states like Maharashtra also, we were late in taking crucial decisions. However, at the same time, as far as Assam is concerned, one has to take into account the fact that the ruling side always has an advantage in bypolls. Besides, the BJP used government machinery in its campaign. They used money power. The BJP used helicopters in their campaign, something unheard of earlier,� Gogoi told The Assam Tribune.
He added, �BJP succeeded in diverting attention from real issues like economic downturn, job losses, agricultural distress and poor state of infrastructure, and instead highlighted subjects like Article 370 and spoke on divisive politics. How is Article 370 relevant in Assam, Maharashtra or Haryana? Yet, they succeeded in their game plan of shifting focus from the real issues. I admit that their strategy proved to be better than ours.�
The principal opposition party will increase its mass contact across Assam in the months to come and will also undertake agitations on various issues, Gogoi said.
�All sections of society are suffering from the economic downturn. Consumption is down. Purchasing power of the common people has declined. Roads, educational institutions and healthcare facilities are in bad shape. Newborn babies have died in Jorhat Medical College & Hospital. The government wants to sell off NRL. We will expose all these facts before the public. We will go to the people, mobilise them and undertake agitations against the government�s failures. Congress will present an alternative to the voters of Assam in the run-up to the 2021 Assembly elections,� he said.
Gogoi said that despite the failure to win any seat in the bypolls, the party�s vote tally has gone up in Sonari and Ratabari. He added that while political pundits had painted a grim picture for the Congress, the party has been able to give a tough fight to the BJP in the Haryana Assembly polls.