Despite the bitter past, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to test it once again. The party finally decided to give the long rope to the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), still the largest regional party in Assam. With election going to be declared anytime soon, the BJP made this hard bargain at the risk of repeating 2011. Then, the party had won only six of the 126 assembly seats. For AGP, the two time ruling party in Assam, it is a battle of survival and had no qualms about bowing its head to the BJP time and again. The BJP never shut its doors on AGP, but only bargained the seats to be given to the regional party.

Both the parties understand, from 2014 Lok Sabha results, that they have a fair chance of defeating Congress in the coming election. The combined number of votes of both the parties was more than the winning candidates of Congress and other parties in over 40 legislative assembly constituency segments. This is the mathematics that has attracted the BJP towards aligning with the AGP. However, electoral mathematics is not always so straightforward and simple. Vote swings happen anytime. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could not win any of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi the last Lok Sabha election even after being the single largest party in the assembly. Assam situation is several times more complex.

Both the AGP and the BJP will have to deal with grievances within their parties against the electoral alliance. Although pre-poll alliances always face protests within the parties, such outburst has the risk of going out of hand and become reason for doomsday. BJP and AGP had the bitter pills more than once in Assam. Yet, they know both the parties share the same voter base. They, especially BJP with an eye on the crown, cannot afford to divide these votes. What is expected from the alliance is less of caste and communal politics, and more of progress and security in the society.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 4, 2016)

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