Traditionally a Congress stronghold, BJP came to power for the first time in Assam, that too with a thumping mandate, in the year 2016. BJP’s overwhelming success in the last Assembly elections left the Congress party reeling in shock. Now, with the 2021 Assembly elections approaching, the desperate Congress is leaving no stone unturned to woo the people of Assam. The party supremo Rahul Gandhi, in fact, recently launched an Assam Bachao page on Facebook, providing a platform to the people of Assam to share with the Congress party, ‘issues which are close to their heart’. This page is used extensively by the Congress party to connect with the people of Assam.
Probably to show its endearment towards the northeast state, Congress shared pictures of tea gardens on its official campaign page on Facebook. One of the pictures was captioned “Team garden estate workers Assam”. The motive behind sharing the picture was probably to show how connected Congress is with the northeastern state and its affinity with the people of the state.
No sooner did it share the picture, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma took to Twitter to fact-check the grand old party. Much to the embarrassment of the grand old party, Biswa pointed out that the picture Congress shared as a part of its ‘Assam Bachao’ campaign page, was actually a tea garden from Taiwan.
Official Congress campaign page is using photo of tea garden from Taiwan to say “Assam Bachao”.— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 4, 2021
Congress leaders can’t even recognise Assam?
This is an insult of Assam and Tea Garden workers of our state. #CongressInsultsAssam pic.twitter.com/UTS7iSROu2
When we too searched for the picture on the internet, we learnt that the BJP leader had correctly pointed out that the image Congress tried to pass off as that of Assam was actually of “Tea pickers working in the Nantou Tea Garden, Nantong, Taiwan, China, Asia”.
Similarly, another photograph of a tea garden used by the Congress party in its Assam Bachao campaign also turned out to be from Taiwan. This was also pointed out by minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
As can be seen in the screenshots posted by Mr Sarma, the photograph used by Congress party showed a tea garden with workers plucking leaves. A careful examination of the photo shows that the women in the garden are not from Assam, as their attire is different from the traditional attire worn by tea workers in Assam. And as the minister pointed out, the photograph is from a tea garden in Taiwan.
It is evident that the Congress social media campaign used stock images for tea gardens, and they ended up using images from Taiwan.
It is ironical that just a couple of days after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi visited a tea garden in Assam, where she spent time with the workers and posed for photos pretending to be plucking leaves, the party could not find a photograph of tea garden from Assam, and had to use stock images of tea gardens in foreign countries.
The Assam Assembly elections are scheduled to be held from March 27 to April 6 in three phases. In 2016, BJP had scripted an electoral history in Assam. From five seats in 2011 to a massive 60 in 2016, the BJP got a stunning mandate in the previous Assembly elections, breaking 15 years of the Congress regime in the state.
Now, the desperate Congress is leaving no stone unturned to regain its foothold. Prior to the upcoming polls, Congress is cashing in on the anxiety and sentimentality of the people of Assam, making CAA one of its main poll planks. This has been evident in their speech campaigns, promises to build a CAA martyrs’ memorial, collection of anti-CAA gamosas, among others. Its campaign, Assam Basaon Ahok, or “Let’s Save Assam” plays into these very sentiments as well.
It may be noted that Congress has allied with AIUDF for the polls in Assam, along with left parties and BPF, which has been unceremoniously ditched by its former ally BJP.