Battleground Assam: Key constituencies to look out for in the last phase

By ANI
GUWAHATI: Assam is all set to go into the last phase of polling on Tuesday. This phase will decide the fate of 337 candidates across 40 constituencies of 12 districts in the state, including the senior minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hemanta Biswa Sarma in the Jalukbari constituency.

There are a total of 12 female candidates and 325 male candidates in the fray, whose fates will be decided by 79,19,641 general electors in the third phase. Of these, 40,11,539 are males, 39,07,963 females and 139 are other genders. There are also 24,460 are service voters.

Apart from Hemanta Biswa Sarma, BJP minister Chandra Mohan Patowary from Dharampur, education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya from Gauhati East, and BJP state chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass from Patacharkuchi are also in the fray in the state.

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The fates of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) candidate Phanibhushan Choudhary from Bongaigaon, Bodoland People’s Front’s (BPF) Pramila Rani Brahma from Kokrajhar-East, and Chandan Brahma from Sidli, independent candidate and Lok Sabha MP Naba Hira Kumar Sarania from Barama will also be decided.

From BJP, MLAs Atul Bora from Dispur, and Suman Haripriya from Hajo are also in the fray.

The fate of sitting Congress MLA Rekibuddin Ahmed, former AGP MLA Kamala Kalita from Chaygaon, and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) working president Pabindra Deka from Pathacharkuchi will also be decided in the third phase.

Barama constituency, from where Kokrajhar’s Lok Sabha MP Naba Kumar Sarania is contesting the polls as an Independent candidate will also go into polling in the last phase.

Both NDA and Congress-led Mahajot have done hectic campaigning in the poll-bound constituencies.

From NDA’s camp, top leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Jitendra Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan have campaigned in the state. Star campaigners from the Congress party also campaigned for their candidates.

The Congress has stitched a broad alliance called the Mahajot, which includes All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, the Anchalik Gana Marcha (AGM) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).

BJP’s alliance includes the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL).

Jailed activist Akhil Gogoi’s Raijor Dal has stitched an alliance with Assam Jatiya Parishad.

The main contest is seen to be between the BJP-led NDA and Congress-led Mahajot.

During campaigning, BJP had repeatedly targeted Congress over its alliance with AIUDF and has been raising the issue of infiltration.

BJP leaders claimed that Congress has allied with those who have “favoured infiltration” and allowed AIUDF candidate and its chief Ajmal Badruddin’s son to contest polls who had claimed that this time “lungi, topi and dadhi” people will form the government.

In its poll promises, BJP said if voted to power, it will free the state from the problem of recurrent floods. “We want to make Assam free from floods. Satellite mapping will be done, reservoirs will be created. We want to make every village in the state ‘Aatmanirbhar'”, said BJP’s manifesto for Assam.

Apart from that, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has announced that BJP government in Assam will make Guwahati a ‘Stand-up India’ hub.

Congress, on the other hand, promised five guarantees to the voters of the state that include five lakh government jobs to youth in five years, 200 units of free electricity, taking daily-wage of tea garden workers to Rs 365 and Rs 2,000 per month to homemakers.

Though both parties are claiming victory, the statistics and voting percentage of the last election show the battle is crucial for both NDA and also Mahajot, as in the 2016 assembly Congress and AIUDF fought separately.

In the last election, while Congress got 30.9 per cent of the vote share, AIUDF got 13 per cent of vote share. On the other hand, BJP had 29.5 per cent and its allies AGP and BPF got 8.1 and 3.9 per cent of the votes. As this time Congress and AIUDF are in alliance with other partners, it may create a problem for NDA.

The BJP formed the first party-led government in Assam after securing a thumping win in the 2016 elections. BJP and its allies won 86 out of 126 seats and ousted the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government which ruled the state for 15 years.

This time a total of 337 candidates are in the fray in the last phase of elections in Assam.

To conduct free and fair polls, Election Commission has deputed 17 expenditure observers and 986 micro observers in Assam. Along with that 320 units of Para Military forces, and a party comprising one constable, and one home guard in each police station have been deployed to maintain law and order at polling stations.

Over 79 lakh electors, including 40,11,539 males, 39,07,963 females, and 139 persons of the third gender will cast their votes in this phase. Assam’s Dharmapur constituency with 1,41,592 votes has the lowest number of voters. Dispur LAC constituency with 4,11,636 has the largest number of electors.

Gauhati West constituency with 15 candidates has the highest number of candidates in the fray. The Boko (SC) seat with three candidates has the least number of candidates on the ground.

The first phase took place on March 27 with a voter turnout of nearly 77 per cent, while a voter turnout of nearly 74.76 per cent was recorded in the second phase of polling on April 1.

After the April 6 voting, counting of votes will take place on May 2.