61 assembly constituencies in Assam, 31 in WB go to polls tomorrow

61 assembly constituencies in Assam, 31 in WB go to polls tomorrow

61 assembly constituencies in Assam, 31 in WB go to polls tomorrow

The electoral battle on day two of Assembly polls tomorrow will seal the fate of 688 candidates for 92 seats of which 61 are in the final phase in Assam and 31 in West Bengal.

525 candidates are in the fray for 61 of the 126 Assembly constituencies in Assam for the second and final phase of polling on Monday. Polling was held for 65 seats on April four.

The ruling Congress, led by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who is hoping to return for a fourth term, is locked in a keen triangular contest with BJP-AGP-BPF alliance and AIUDF with the issue of infiltration from Bangladesh hitting the spotlight.

Congress is contesting in 57 seats, opposition AIUDF in 47, BJP in 35 while its allies--the Bodo Peoples' Front in 10 and the Asom Gana Parishad in 19. The CPI(M) is contesting in nine seats, the CPI in five, and Independents in 214.

Among prominent candidates in fray are cabinet ministers Rakibul Hussain, Chandan Sarkar and Nazrul Islam for the Congress, former two-time AGP Chief Minister Prafulla Mahanta, AIUDF chief and Dhubri MP Badruddin Ajmal and former Congress minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who led a dissidence against the Chief Minister and joined BJP last year.

Over 50,000 polling personnel have been deployed for the second phase even as security has been tightened across the constituencies, particularly those in four Bodoland Territorial Area Districts where NDFB(S) ultras are active and in Goalpara district which witnessed a bomb blast recently.

The elections in West Bengal tomorrow for 31 seats will seal the fate of some top opposition leaders where 163 candidates, including 21 women, are in the fray in the 31 seats of West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan districts. The Assembly strength is 294. Polling for 18 Assembly constituencies was held on April 4.Around 70 lakh people are eligible to cast their votes.

The hustings will witness a triangular contest among the ruling Trinamool Congress, Left Front-Congress combine, and BJP. All of them have fielded candidates in all the 31 seats.

Five-time CPI-M MLA from Narayangarh and Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, senior state Congress leader Manas Bhuniya from Sabang are among the major candidates in this phase.

91-year-old Gyan Singh Sohanpal, the senior most member in the assembly, is in the fray again from Kharagpur Sadar seat where he is pitted against BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.

Two prominent newbies - Bengali film actor Soham Chakraborty and Col Diptanshu Chaudhury (retd), who had fought in the Kargil War - are trying their luck in politics on Trinamool Congress and BJP tickets respectively.

Besides the Saradha chitfund scam, opposition parties have been targeting the TMC government on the recent Narada sting operation where party leaders were purportedly seen accepting bribe. Issues related to industrialisation and the "Syndicate Raj" have also been haunting the dispensation.

On the other hand, Trinamool is making a determined bid for a second successive term by harping on the 'development' and welfare schemes the Mamata Banerjee government has brought in state during its maiden five-year rule.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury were among the star campaigners for the opposition parties.

For TMC, party supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has urged the people to vote thinking that "I (Banerjee) am the candidate in all 294 seats", has campaigned extensively.

Polling will be held at 8,465 polling stations amid tight security. Central Armed Police Forces have been mandated the responsibility of handling situation inside the booths.

In Assam, other major candidates in the fray for tomorrow's polls include BPF's Chandan Brahma, Pramila Rani Brahma and Rihon Daimari, AGP's Ramendra Narayan Kalita and Kamala Kalita and their former colleagues who joined the BJP -- Atul Bora and Chandra Mohan Patowary.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the campaign for the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance in both the phases, addressed four rallies while his ministerial colleagues Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, BJP President Amit Shah and Chief Ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal also pitched in.

For the Congress, party president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, state unit chief Anjan Dutta, former UPA ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid and Sachin Pilot campaigned for its candidates.

The campaign in the second phase, which has a predominant minority population in several constituencies, focused primarily on the issue of infiltration.

The BJP pledged to resolve the infiltration issue by completely sealing off the Indo-Bangla border while Congress said there was no Bangladeshi in Assam and it was the Tarun Gogoi government that took initiative to update the National Register of Citizens to resolve the issue.

The AIUDF, on the other hand, highlighted its role as the king-maker. The first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal and Assam on April 4 passed off peacefully, with a high voter turnout of over 80 per cent.

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