Assam set for first phase of polling today

Assam set for first phase of polling today

Assam set for first phase of polling today

After a month-long hectic and fever-pitched campaigning by all political parties, Assam is all set to cast its vote in the first phase of the Assam Assembly polls to be held on Monday. 

Sixty-five constituencies of the total 126 Assembly constituencies will go for polls in the first phase, most of them are ruling Congress strongholds where the BJP is trying to make a dent.

The first phase will decide the fate of many heavy weight candidates including Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Atul Bora, Assam Legislative Assembly speaker Pranab Gogoi and former union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar. There are 539 other candidates in the fray, which includes 43 women candidates as well.

It will also be an acid test for Congress’s dynastic politics in Assam as several family members of top congress leaders are in the fray.

In Assam, nearly 94 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the first phase, of them there are about 46 lakh women voters.

They will be casting votes in as many as 12,190 polling stations in the 65 constituencies of the state.  Totally, 7,629 polling stations have been identified as sensitive, 3,663 identified as hyper sensitive and 1,910 are marked as critical.

“Security arrangements have been done as per the necessity. In every polling station, there will be at least three armed police and two unarmed constables. More security personnel will be deployed in sensitive and critical polling stations as per the necessity” said Assam’s Additional Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade  to reporters in Guwahati on Sunday.

Chief Minister Gogoi is perhaps facing the toughest fight of his political career in his Titabar constituency where BJP has fielded against him the Jorhat MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa.

BJP’s Sonowal is contesting from Majuli River Island, which is an emotive seat for the saffron party as the Island is seen as the cradle of Vaishnavite culture of the greatest Assamese Saint Srimanta Sankar Dev.

 BJP and its allies are fighting this election with the call of protecting the rights of the indigenous communities of the Assamese society against the threat of a total takeover by illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The Congress is however asking people to vote for its 15 years of stability and development.

The mandate of the first phase will be crucial for the final result. Two regions with Congress strong hold—the upper reaches of Brahmaputra valley where the fight will be between the Congress and the BJP-AGP combine and the Barak Valley region where it is a tri-angular fight between the Congress, the BJP and the AIUDF.

While upper Assam has 50 seats, 15 seats are there in Barak Valley. While the ruling Congress would try to retain these two bastions, the BJP and its allies will try to erode the Congress vote bank.

The key factor in this region will be the Tea garden votes and the Bengali Hindu and the caste Assamese voters. The Ahom community votes will also play a crucial role.

The issue of Bangladeshi immigrants entering Assam is overshadowing all other issues in several constituencies in the state.

 Both the BJP and the Congress are using the issue as a major poll plank. In their attempt to woo voters, both parties are claiming that they will offer refuge to Hindu migrants from Bangladesh.

Criminal cases

As per affidavits, 30 candidates in first phase have declared criminal cases against them. Of these, 25 candidates have serious criminal cases, including those related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and crimes against women.

The polls will also decide the fate of as many as 112 are crorepati candidates. At least 20 candidates have assets more then 5 crores.  

As many as 36 candidates out of the total 65 fielded by the Congress, and 23 of the BJP out of the 54 in the fray are millionaires. While, the AGP has seven crorepatis.

Millionaires contesting

There are 280 independent candidates trying their political luck in the first phase, 26 of them are millionaires.

Independent candidate from Sootea constituency, Jyoti Subba, has the highest assets of Rs 2,88,11,84,362.00 so far.

In a sharp contrast, there are two candidates who declared zero assets—CPI-ML-L’s Jiten Tanti from Teok constituency, and independent candidate Diganta Phukan from Mariani.

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