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Stakes high for BJP, AGP in first phase of Assam polls today; CM Sonowal in fray

ANI | Updated: Mar 27, 2021 12:30 IST

Dispur (Assam) [India], March 27 (ANI): The stakes for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) are high in Assam where 47 seats of 126 Assembly constituencies across 34 districts will go for polling to the first of the three-phase elections on Saturday.
Polling will begin at 7 am today in 47 constituencies across 12 districts in Assam where the ruling BJP and Congress-AIUDF alliance are locked in a direct electoral contest.
In the first phase, a total of 264 candidates are in the fray on the 47 seats -- 42 from 11 districts of the Upper and northern region of the state and five seats from central Assam's Nagaon district.
The ruling BJP, who had wrestled power from the Congress in 2016 after a 15-year rule, is seeking a second term with the help of the AGP and the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL).
The Congress-led United People's Alliance (UPA) 'Mahajath' and United Regional Front (URF) led by activist Akhil Gogoi's Raijor Dal have posed as formidable opponents.
Over the last few days, several bigwigs and national leaders of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, national party president JP Nadda, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, visited the state to campaign for the party.
In his rallies, Prime Minister Modi hit out at the Congress' 15-year rule and lauding the Sarbananda Sonowal government for developmental work in the last five years.
Several political heavyweights are in the fray in the first phase. Sonowal is seeking re-election from Majuli, a seat he wrested from Congress' Rajib Lochan Pegu in the 2016 Assembly elections. Pegu, who had won the seat for three straight terms since 2001, has again been fielded by Congress.
Assam Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami is in the poll battle from Jorhat, ministers Ranjit Dutta from Behali, Naba Kumar Doley from Jonai and Sanjoy Kishan from Tinsukia.
Popular leader Hemanta Biswa Sarma, who switched from the Congress ahead of the last elections, is contesting from Jalukbari.
Congress has fielded Jyoti Baruah in party stronghold Titabar, a seat held by former chief minister Tarun Gogoi till his death on November 23, 2020. BJP candidate Hemanta Kalita will contest against Baruah.
Lurinjyoti Gogoi, president of newly-floated regional political party Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) will contest from two seats-- Duliajan and Naharkatia which will go to polls in the first phase.
The fate of jailed anti-CAA activist and Raijor Dal chief Akhil Gogoi from Sibsagar will be decided in the first phase. Gogoi, a peasant leader, is in jail since December 2019 in connection with a National Investigation Agency (NIA) case for his role in the anti-CAA protests in Assam. He was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
As Raijor Dal had reportedly failed to register with the election commission as a political party, all the Raijor Dal candidates will contest the polls as independent candidates. AJP and Raijor Dal are contesting the polls in an alliance.
The BJP's manifesto highlights 10 key agendas - providing three lakh jobs to the youth, Rs 2.5 lakh financial support to namgarhs, 'correct' National Register of Citizens, the removal of illegal encroachments, protection of Assam's political rights by speeding up the delimitation process and support for landless people through 'patta' system.
"Mahajath" which include Congress, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), led by Badruddin Ajmal, 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 Peoples' Front (BPF) was formed to oust the BJP government.
The Congress' 'People's manifesto', which was released by Rahul Gandhi, promised to defend the "idea of the state of Assam" through 'five guarantees' - five lakh government jobs, monthly income of Rs 2,000 to housewives and 200 units of free electricity, the daily wage of Rs 365 for tea garden workers, and no implementation of the CAA.
In 2016, the BJP scripted history and formed the government for the first time in the state ending Congress's 15-year rule. The BJP and its allies - AGP and Bodoland People's Front (BPF), won a combined 86 seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly.
BJP bagged 60 seats, AGP 14 and BPF 12 seats. The Congress, which ran the state for three straight terms under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi, could manage to win only 26 seats.
The second phase will take place on April 1 in 39 constituencies in 13 districts while 40 Assembly constituencies in 12 districts to go on polls on April 6. Counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)