Assam Election Phase 3: Focus Turns to Muslim, Bodo & Urban Votes
Out of 40 seats, 20 are in Muslim-dominated districts and 8 are in Bodoland.
The run-up to the third phase of polling in Assam has had more than its share of drama and controversies. Take these incidents for instance:
- An EVM being found in the car of a BJP MLA after the second phase of polling in Karimganj district.
- In a polling booth with 90 voters in Dima Hasao, 171 votes were found to have been polled.
- Top BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma was handed a 48 hour ban for his comments against BPF chairman Hagrama Mohilary, which was reduced to 24 hours after his "unconditional apology".
- The police reportedly carried out a raid on BPF candidate from Kokrajhar East Pramila Rani Brahma.
This is not an exhaustive list but only an indicative one showing the high drama that has taken place in the last leg of the electoral battle in Assam.
What Areas Are Voting in the Third Phase?
- 40 seats out of Assam's 126 constituencies will be voting in the third phase of polling on 6 April.
- Out of 40, 20 seats are in Muslim majority districts like Dhubri, Barpeta, Goalpara, South Salmara and Bongaigaon.
- Eight are in the Bodoland area districts like Baksa, Chirang and Kokrajhar.
- Ten are in Guwahati and nearby areas in the Kamrup region and Nalbari district.
- Among the key candidates in this phase are Himanta Biswa Sarma from Jalukbari, Assam BJP president Ranjit Dass at Paracharkuchi senior AIUDF leader Aminul Islam from Mankachar, senior Congress leader Rekibuddin Ahmed from Chaygaon, senior BPF leaders Chandra Brahma from Sidli and Pramila Brahma from Kokrajhar East.
Focus on Congress Allies
- Unlike the first phase, in which the Congress was directly taking on the BJP-AGP alliance, the third phase has a much greater presence of its allies - AIUDF and the Bodoland People's Front.
- Out of 40 seats, BPF is contesting 8 and AIUDF 7.
- Both allies have been at the recieiving end of attacks from the BJP, particularly minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
- The Congress alliance's prospects are closely tied to the conslidation of Muslim and Bodo votes, besides the anti-incumbency against BJP on the issue of unemployment and price rise.
- The BJP on the other hand is counting on its welfare schemes, especially those providing direct benefits to the poor. There has also been an increase in communally charged campaigning, particularly from Sarma.
What's At Stake
- Barely three months ago, the election was said to be a cakewalk for the BJP-led alliance. However, Congress' alliance with AIUDF, BPF, Anchalik Gana Morcha and Left parties changed equations and what seemed to be a one-sided election suddenly became interesting.
- The Congress also backed up this arithmetic w ith a sharp, issue-based campaign focused on five guarantees: Five lakh jobs, Rs 365 per day daily wage for tea garden workers, Rs 2,000 per month allowance for housewives, free electricity up to a certain number of units and scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
- On the other hand, the BJP alienated allies like BPF and lost some ground due to a tussle between CM Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
- The newly formed parties like the Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal also harmed equations for both the main alliances.
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