Stage set for final phase of polls

Stage set for final phase of polls
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters during an election public rally in Tamulpur, Assam, on April 3. (ANI)
Guwahati, Apr 5 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 4/5/2021 12:29:52 PM IST

The stage is set for third and final phase of polls in Assam voting for which will take place on Tuesday.

A total of 337 candidates (25 women) are contesting from 40 of the total 126 seats in the state in the third phase. Over 7.9 million voters would cast their vote in 11,401 polling stations (316 all women), Hindustan Times reported.

The key candidates for third phase include BJP leader and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (Jalukbari), BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass (Patacharkuchi), cabinet minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya (BJP-Guwahati East), cabinet minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury (Asom Gana Parishad—Bongaigaon) and minister Pramila Rani Brahma (Bodoland Peoples’ Front—Kokrajhar East).

In the third phase, the ruling BJP has 20 candidates while its alliance partners AGP and United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL) will contest from 13 and 8 seats respectively. On the other hand, Opposition Congress is contesting 24 seats and its alliance partners All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) have 12 and 8 candidates respectively.

Over 45,600 polling personnel will be on duty on Tuesday and 320 companies of security personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order. Each polling station would be manned by a constable and home guard.

‘In the first two phases of polling itself BJP has got enough seats close to forming a government. We will form a BJP-majority government in Assam,” Union home minister Amit Shah said at poll rally in Sorbhog on Sunday.

“Congress follows a policy of divide and rule whereas BJP under Narnedra Modi believes in ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas’ (with all, development of all and with trust of all). We have made Assam terrorism-free and agitation-free and in the next five years, we will make the state flood-free,” he added.

Congress state president Ripun Bora accused BJP of trying to polarise voters with a communal campaign. He thanked people of Assam for not getting swayed and expressing faith in the grand alliance.

“The message from the ground is clear. There will be a clean sweep by Congress and our alliance partners. We are ready to form the government in Assam and assure voters that our five guarantees will be implemented,” he said.

Like the previous two phases on March 27 and April 1, besides harping on development and welfare schemes of the government, BJP focused on attacking Congress and AIUDF and warned voters that Assam’s identity and ‘sanskriti’ would be lost if the Congress ‘mahajot’ (grand alliance) comes to power.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi even termed the grand-alliance as ‘maha-jhooth’ (grand lies) in one of his rallies. AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal continued to be the main target. Incidents like Ajmal hitting a person with a ‘gamosa’ (traditional towel) in a rally was highlighted as an attack on Assamese people.

On the other hand, Congress is banking on its five guarantees to voters --200 units of free electricity to all households, non-implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Assam, Rs. 2,000 per month to housewives, Rs. 365 daily wage to tea-garden workers and 500,000 government jobs in five years—to see the party and the alliance through.

In 2016, BJP won 11 of the 40 seats, Congress also won 11, AIUDF got 6, AGP won 4 and BPF got 8. But unlike last time when BPF was part of the BJP camp, the party has switched sides and joined the Congress grand alliance.

“The interesting contest of the third phase would be witnessed in the eight seats in Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). Last time, BPF had won all these seats,” said Solomon Islary, associate professor of political science at Kokrajhar-based Bodoland University.

“This time, they have a contest at hand with UPPL, which is part of the BJP alliance and came to power in the Bodoland Territorial Council in December along with the saffron party. How many seats both these parties win or lose could decide which alliance would form the next government,” he added.


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