BJP, Cong face off in bypolls to 5 Assam Assembly seats

BJP, Congress face off in bypolls to 5 Assembly seats in Assam

Polling will continue till 5 pm in the poll-bound constituencies

Election officials carrying EVMs leave for polling stations on the eve of bypolls to Musalpur seat, in Baksa district. Credit: PTI Photo

Polling for bye-elections in five Assembly constituencies in Assam began at 7 am, where the opposition Congress is battling the BJP and its allies.

A total of 31 candidates are in the fray for bye-elections, which will continue till 5 pm, in Thowra, Mariani, Bhawanipur, Gossaigaon and Tamulpur constituencies. 

Congress has fielded candidates in all five seats while the BJP is fighting in Thowra, Mariani and Bhawanipur and is supporting candidates of its ally United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) in Gossaigaon and Tamulpur. 

Also read: Assam bypolls: Nearly 8 lakh voters eligible to decide fate of 31 candidates in 5 Assembly seats

In the Assembly elections held in March-April, the Congress had won Thowra and Mariani seats in eastern Assam while its former allies, AIUDF and Bodoland People's Front (BPF) bagged Bhawanipur and Gossaigaon seats, respectively. UPPL candidate won in Tamulpur. Bhawanipur, Gossaigaon and Tamulpur are in western Assam. 

Bye-elections in Thowra, Mariani and Bhawanipur were necessitated after the Congress and AIUDF MLAs, Sushanta Borgohain, Rupjyoti Kurmi (both Congress) and Phani Talukdar (AIUDF) switched over to the BJP. Gossaigaon and Tamulpur seats fell vacant after the sitting MLAs died recently. 

The BJP and the UPPL said they were confident of bagging all five seats while the Congress exuded confidence of retaining Thowra and Mariani and doing better in the other three seats stating that people were angry over the BJP-led government's failure to contain prices and create jobs.

"We are expecting a contest only in Bhawanipur from AIUDF. I hope BJP-UPPL candidates will easily win in the four seats," Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters in Guwahati recently. 

The AIUDF is contesting in Bhawanipur only. Raijor Dal of Akhil Gogoi is fighting in Thowra and Mariani. 

Seven opposition parties including Congress, AIUDF and BPF had formed the "grand alliance" and contested the Assembly elections together. But BJP and its allies, UPPL and Asom Gana Parishad formed the government in May for the second consecutive term. BPF was an ally of BJP in the 2016 elections but the party quit the ruling alliance as BJP joined hands with UPPL in December last year. 

The BJP won 59 of 126 Assembly seats, while the AGP and the UPPL bagged nine and five seats, respectively. The Congress won 29 seats but two MLAs switched over to the ruling party.

Bypolls in Meghalaya and Mizoram 

Polling for bye-elections in the three Assembly seats in Meghalaya (Mawryngkneng and Mawphlang in East Khasi Hills district and Rajabala in East Garo Hills district) and one in Mizoram (Tuirial in Kolasib district) also began at 7 am on Saturday. 

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