BJP loses its shine in Assam and the Northeast

While BJP has managed to grab nine of the 14 seats in Assam, the same as in 2019, it came down to second position in terms of vote share as INC took the lead there with the share at 37.48%

The results of the Lok Sabha election 2024 (18th Lok Sabha) came out on June 4 as it defied all the exit poll predictions which had predicted a landslide victory for the BJP and its NDA alliance (suggesting 350-400 seats). The BJP, in fact, barely managed to win 240 seats, down from 303 seats it had won in 2019. While significant losses came from states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, states from northeast, including Assam also poked a hole into BJP’s balloon of invincibility and hard-line Hindutva.

Though BJP retained the same number of seats in Assam (nine seats) as in 2019 and increased its vote share from 36.4% to 37.43%, it lost is position as a party with top vote share in the state to Indian National Congress (INC) which improved its vote share from 35.8% to 37.48% by winning three seats (same as last time). Out of 14 seats in the state, BJP and INC bagged 9 and 3 seats each respectively while one seat each went to BJP allies United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). Notably, BJP’s alliance with the parties in the northeast is known as North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), which is headed by Assam CM and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Important seats


Considered a prestige battle between BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma and INC leader Gaurav Gogoi, the seat saw a direct contest between Gaurav Gogoi from INC and the then sitting MP Topon Kumar Gogoi from BJP, who is also a former All Assam Students Union (AASU) leader. Despite the changes in the boundaries of the seats in the last year’s delimitation exercise, INC’s Gaurav Gogoi won from a newly contested Jorhat seat with a margin of 144393 votes (getting a total of 751771 votes) against his closest rival Topon Gogoi who secured 607378 votes. INC’s candidate secured 54.04% vote share in this seat compared to 43.66% gathered by BJP. Notably, Sarma had claimed that INC would see its biggest loss in this seat, as he made aggressive campaigns against the INC candidate, but eventually failed to grasp the pulse of the people. Significantly, Jorhat is a Hindu majority place, where the vote of the Ahom community is one of the deciding factors in the seat.


This is a traditional seat of Assam’s third largest political party, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), whose leader Badruddin Ajmal had won this seat for three consecutive times since 2009. In this Lok Sabha election, Ajmal was defeated by INC candidate Rakibul Hussain, who won the seat by a whopping margin of 1012476 votes (getting a total of 1471885 votes) against 459409 votes secured by Ajmal. In terms of vote share, there is a sharp contrast between the two, with Hussain securing 59.99% of all votes while the AIUDF chief getting only 18.72% of total vote share. As AIUDF failed to secure Dhubri seat, it was reduced to naught in the present Lok Sabha election in the state. Notably, Ajmal is a perfume baron and maulvi, known for his conservative Islamic politics. The winds of change suggest that a significant number of Muslim voters in the seat have shifted their allegiance to INC after nearly two decades. Pertinently, before the present rout, AIUDF had a consistent vote share of over 40% in 2014 and 2019. Muslims comprise 55% of the population in the constituency, Hindus 40%, and other religious groups 5%.


Karimganj Lok Sabha constituency saw a fierce fight between the ruling BJP MP Kripanath Mallah and INC candidate Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury, who is a Senior Advocate at Gauhati High Court. BJP’s sitting MP Mallah emerged victorious in this seat as he secured 545093 votes against INC’s HRM Choudhury who managed to gather 526733 votes, thus winning the seat with the margin of 18360 votes. Pertinently, AIUDF’s candidate Sahabul Islam Choudhury played a spoiler against INC as he fetched 29205 votes, which might have turned the table in favour of INC. Kripanath Mallah secured 47.53% of vote share against HRM Choudhury’s 45.93% and Sahabul Choudhury’s 2.55%. Importantly, after the delimitation, the seat was converted into a general constituency in this election which had been previously reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC).

There were serious issues of questionable and unbiased behaviour of the RO (Returning Officer)( in this seat leading to allegations of an unfair poll, something that may be challenged soon.


This Lok Sabha seat has been traditionally ruled by BJP, with the party winning the seat from 1999 to 2014. In 2019, INC won the seat in alliance with AIUDF in a close fight between BJP and INC, with the former securing 722972 votes (48.4% vote share) compared to INC’s winning candidate Pradyut Bordoloi who garnered 739,724 (49.5% vote share). In this Lok Sabha elections, the seat again went to INC’s Pradyut Bordoloi as he defeated BJP’s Suresh Borah by a margin of 212231 votes, with INC leader securing 788850 votes compared to Borah’s 576619 votes. Importantly, Suresh Borah is former INC Nagaon President, and AIUDF was allegedly working closely with BJP to defeat the INC candidate in this election. Unlike the 2019 elections where AIUDF had joined hands with INC, this time it fielded its own candidate, Aminul Islam, but secured just 137340 votes.


BJP won this Lok Sabha seat for the fourth consecutive term since 2009, nonetheless this time it won the constituency with a reduced vote share compared to 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This election, BJP’s Bijuli Kalita Medhi defeated INC’s Mira Borthakur Goswami with a margin of 251090 votes. Medhi secured 55.95% vote share (894887 votes) compared to Goswami’s 40.25% vote share (643797 votes), a reduction from 57.2% that BJP gathered in 2019 and increase for INC from 37.6% it managed in 2019. Notably, it is for the fourth consecutive time that a woman will lead the constituency, which was previously ruled by Queen Oja (2019) and Bijoya Chakravarty (2009-14).

Kokrajhar (ST)

Kokrajhar has been a difficult seat for both the national parties, BJP and INC, and the constituency had been ruled by independent candidate Naba Kumar Sarania for a decade (since 2014) and before that in 2009, it was won by Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF). This Lok Sabha election, BJP ally United People’s Party, Liberal (UPPL) clinched the seat for the first time as Naba Kumar’s nomination was cancelled coupled with weak campaigning by Congress and BPF. Joyanta Basumatary from UPPL secured 488995 votes (39.39% vote share) compared to his nearest rival Kampa Borgoyari from BPF who garnered 437412 votes (35.23% vote share), thus defeating BPF candidate by a close margin of 51583 votes. INC candidate Garjan Mashahary seems to have played a spoiler as he ended up a distant third with 113736 votes (9.16% vote share). Importantly, the seat is reserved for scheduled tribes (ST), and a major portion of Bodo Tribes people seems to have supported BJP-UPPL this election, along with the support received by All Bodo Students Union (ABSU).


The Lok Sabha constituency of Barpeta has traditionally belonged to Congress and the party had won the seat in 2019 Lok Sabha. In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, BJP ally Asom Gana Parishad (ASP) won the seat for the first time by defeating INC candidate with a margin of 222351 votes. ASP candidate Phani Bhusan Choudhury gathered 860113 votes (51.02% vote share) defeating the nearest INC rival Deep Bayan who managed to secure only 637762 votes (37.82% vote share). Notably, CPI (M) and TMC also fielded their candidates in the seat but could not manage to create much difference in the bi-polar fight between INC and ASP, even though CPI (M) candidate garnered close to 1 lakh votes.

While both BJP and Congress have managed to retain the same number of seats compared to last General Election, BJP is said to have suffered a considerable moral defeat after losing the prestige battle in Jorhat along with seats in Nagaon and Dhubri. The BJP MLA from the party, Mrinal Saikia, took a shot at Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, saying “The outcome proved that money, big publicity, overdoses of leaders and arrogant speeches does not always help to win elections.”

Following the defeat in Nagaon and Dhubri, Sarma was also found communalising the election results, as Indian Express quoted him saying, “‘The dangerous election results of Nagaon and Dhubri have again proved that the foundation of the social fabric of Assam is very weak… Rakibul Hussain won by over 10 lakh votes. What does this signify? It shows the danger in front of our society and ‘jatiya jibon’ (national life),”…“…You think about leading by over 10 lakh votes and not a single Hindu voted there; so how much is the danger in front of our social fabric?… This 10 lakh will become 12 lakh in next 10 years with 29 per cent growth of Muslim population…”

Significant losses in northeast

The national party has lost significantly in other northeast states, including Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland. The violent ethnic conflict between Meitei and Kuki communities that started in May 2023 in the BJP ruled Manipur has seen over 226 dead, 1,500 injured, and 60,000 displaced according to the Indian Express report. As the BJP government, both at the state and centre, failed to contain violence and stop the carnage in the state of Manipur, people from both Meitei and Kuki communities rejected BJP and its NDA ally in this Lok Sabha Election, especially frustrated by PM Modi’s utter silence in the matter and inability of Home Minister Amit Shah to handle the sensitive situation in the state. Furthermore, hard-line Hindutva campaign in the rest of the country has cost dearly to BJP in north eastern states which due to its diverse ethnic and tribal demography find it difficult to resonate with BJP’s Hindutva campaign, if not to averse it.


BJP and its ally NDA party the Naga People’s Front (NPF) lost both the seats this election in Manipur which they had won in 2019. In 2019, Inner Manipur constituency had been won by BJP while Outer Manipur constituency had been clinched by BJP ally NPF. In this Lok Sabha election, BJP and NPF lost both their seats to INC. In the Inner Manipur seat, INC candidate and associate professor at JNU, Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, defeated his closest BJP rival Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh by a margin of more than 1 lakh votes, securing 46.93% vote share. In Outer Manipur constituency (ST reserved), INC candidate Alfred Kanngam S Arthur won the seat with a margin of 85418 votes (48.32% vote share), voting out the nearest rival from NPF, Kachui Timothy Zimik, who secured 299536 votes (37.6% vote share).


The state of Meghalaya has two Lok Sabha seats, namely, Shillong and Tura (both ST reserved). In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, one seat each went to INC and National People’s Party (NPP), the latter being part of BJP-led NDA alliance. In the 2024 Lok Sabha election, INC lost its Shillong seat which it had won in 2019 to Voice of the People Party (VOTPP), but snatched Tura seat in turn from NPP, thus keeping its tally intact. BJP ally NPP failed to win any seat in the state and lost its 2019 Tura seat to INC, with the latter’s candidate Saleng Sangma winning the seat with 383919 votes (56.96% vote share) over its nearest rival NPP candidate Agatha Sangma who managed to secure just 228678 votes (33.93 vote share), thus maintaining a victory margin of 155241 votes. In Shillong, INC candidate and outgoing MP Vincent Pala lost the seat by more than 3.7 lakh vote margin (securing only 199168 votes) to VOTPP’s Dr. Ricky Andrew J. Syngkon, who comfortably won the seat gathering 571078 votes (55.02% vote share).


The lone seat in Mizoram went to Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) this election, defeating the rival parties including INC, BJP and Mizo National Front (MNF). ZPM candidate Richard Vanlalhmangaiha secured 208552 votes (42.45% vote share) and won over his nearest rival K Vanlalvena who secured 140264 votes (28.55% votes), keeping the victory margin of 68288 votes. Notably, ZPM is not in alliance with either INDIA or NDA, while MNF was BJP ally since 2014 but broke up with BJP in 2023 over its handling of Mizo refugees from Myanmar. 


Another state with a single Lok Sabha seat saw a direct contest between INC and NDA ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). INC candidate S Supongmeren Jamir beat NDPP candidate Dr Chumben Murry with a victory margin of 50984 votes. While INC’s Jamir secured 401951 votes (52.83% vote share), NDPP’s Murry gathered 350967 votes (46.13% vote share). Notably, NDPP had been holding this seat since 2018 through its now former MP Tokheho Yepthomi (won first in the 2018 by-election and later in the 2019 general election) but lost its hold to Congress in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Furthermore, INC has won back this seat after more than two decades, bespeaking to its resurgence across the country, including northeast.


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