Assam Election 2021: 40 constituencies go to polls in third and final phase today; Himanta Biswa Sarma in fray

FP Staff
·7-min read

Assam will go to polls on Tuesday in the third and final phase of its Assembly elections to decide the fate of 337 candidates, including senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his five cabinet colleagues and BJP state unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, in 40 constituencies.

A direct contest between nominees of the BJP-led NDA and Congress-headed Grand Alliance is on the cards in 20 constituencies while the remaining seats will see a triangular fight, including friendly contests, with the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) being considered as the third force. There are 25 women candidates contesting in this phase.

The first two phases of the election were held on 27 March and 1 April. Votes will be counted on 2 May.

Over 79 lakh voters to cast vote in 11,401 polling stations

Polling will begin at 7 am and end at 6 pm, with the timing extended by an hour to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are maintained in the constituencies spread across 12 districts.

Altogether 79,19,641 voters €" 40,11,539 men,39,07,963 women and 139 of the third gender are entitled to exercise their franchise in 11,401 polling stations.

Elections are being held amidst tight security as 320 companies of security forces were deployed in the third phase, the highest among all the phases.

There are 316 all-women polling stations and 149 model polling stations. Altogether 45,604 polling personnel have been deployed for the phase. A section of them has started on Sunday for their polling stations which are remote.

Voters have been urged to wear masks or they will be provided with one at the polling stations, if they are unmasked while COVID mitigation facilities like sanitiser, thermal scanners, soap and handwashing facilities will be a part of Assured Minimum Facilities at each polling station.

The third phase of polling will also involve 33 general observers, nine police observers, 17 expenditure observers and 986 micro-observers.

Key campaigners

The campaigning for the third phase drew to an end on Sunday. An array of national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress's Rahul Gandhi campaigned for their respective alliance candidates.

Modi, who campaigned in all three phases, addressed two rallies at Kokrajhar and Tamulpur, both in BTR, and highlighted the signing of the Bodo Accord and the BJP's development initiatives while Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed a series of election rallies in Lower Assam constituencies.

He was scheduled to address three rallies on the last day of campaigning but had to cut short his visit to Assam and returned to New Delhi following the Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh.

Among other leaders who campaigned for the saffron party were BJP chief JP Nadda, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Narendra Tomar, Jitendra Singh, Smriti Irani, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Anurag Thakur, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state unit chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass and Sarma, who has so far addressed the highest number of election rallies.

Sarma was barred by the Election Commission from campaigning for 48 hours from 2 April for allegedly making threatening remarks against BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary. The campaign ban was however reduced to 24 hours after Sarma appealed for a review, drawing criticism for the poll body from the Congress and the CPM.

Rahul Gandhi visited the Kamkhaya Temple and addressed rallies at Chaygaon and Barkhetri seats, while his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also scheduled to campaign in three constituencies in Lower Assam but had to cancel the plan after coming in contact with a COVID-19 infected person.

Others who campaigned for the Grand Alliance candidates included Rajya Sabha MPs Mallikarjun Kharge, Dr Nasir Hussain and Dr Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, AICC leader Randeep Singh, state Congress unit chief Ripun Bora, Lok Sabha MPs Pradyut Bordoloi, Gaurav Gogoi and AICC Assam in-charge Jitendra Singh.

'Mahajoth' or 'Grand Alliance' comprises Congress, AIUDF, Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF), CPM CPI, CPI(ML) Liberation, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

Key poll issues

The BJP, besides speaking about development initiatives taken by the "double-engine government", also attacked the Congress for aligning with the AIUDF. The BJP attacked Badrudding Ajmal by accusing him of encouraging illegal immigration from Bangladesh, leading to "land and love Jihad" and promised to tackle these issues by bringing in a legislation.

The Congress, on the other hand, focussed its campaign on the 'five guarantees' of not implementing CAA, providing government jobs to five lakh youths, 200 units of free power, raising daily wages of tea garden workers to Rs 365 and giving a monthly allowance of Rs 2,000 to homemakers.

Key candidates

The newly floated AJP is contesting in 22 seats while there are 126 Independent candidates in the fray in the final phase of the election in which the BJP-led coalition is seeking to return to power for the second term in a row.

The fate of 20 sitting MLAs €" eight from the Congress, five from the BJP, three each from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the BPF and one from the AGP €" will be decided in the final phase.

The BJP is contesting in 20 seats while its allies €" the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in nine and the United Peoples Party Liberal €" in eight, including a friendly contest between the saffron party and the UPPL in Bijni.

The Congress has fielded 24 candidates and its partners €" the AIUDF in 12, the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) in eight and CPM in one. The Congress and the AIUDF are engaged in friendly contests in the five constituencies of Jaleswar, Baghbar, Sarukhetri, Chenga and Barkhetri.

The BJP has severed its ties with its earlier ally, the BPF, and entered into an alliance with the UPPL since the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls in December but decided to keep the BPF in the government till the Assembly polls.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, a powerful minister and the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the NDA's version in the region, is locked in a direct contest with Congress candidate Romen Chandra Barthakur in a bid to retain the Jalukbari seat for the fifth consecutive term.

BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, who earlier represented Sorbhog, is now locked in a triangular contest with the AJP's working president Pabindra Deka and the Congress' Santanu Sarma in Patacharkuchi. The constituency was earlier represented by Deka as an AGP member but he resigned from the party to join the AJP.

Industry Minister Chandramohan Patowary is in a triangular contest with the AJPs Shikhar Kumar Sarma and the Congresss Ratul Patowary to retain the Dharmapur seat.

Guwahati Development Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya is also locked in a triangular contest to retain Gauhati (East) with the Congress' Ashima Bardoloi, grand-daughter of Assams first chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi, and journalist Adip Kumar Phukan of the AJP.

AGP minister Phanibhushan Choudhury, representing Bongaigaon since 1985, is engaged in a triangular fight with the Congress' Sankar Prasad Ray and the AJPs Dipu Choudhury to retain the seat for the eighth time in a row.

BPF minister Pramila Rani Brahma is in a direct contest with Lawrence Islary of the UPPL in Kokrajhar (East) in a bid to retain the seat for the seventh consecutive term.

Another BPF minister Chandan Brahma is also locked in a direct contest with his UPPL opponent Joyanta Basumatary in the Sidli constituency.

Independent Kokrajhar Lok Sabha MP Naba Kumar Sarania is in a triangular fight with the BPFs Prabeen Baro and UPPL's Bhupen Baro in the Barama seat.

In the Tamulpur constituency, BPF candidate Rangja Khungur Basumatary withdrew from the contest and joined the BJP during campaigning, making the path easier for UPPL candidate Leho Ram Boro.

On Sunday, the Election Commission had turned down a plea of the BPF to postpone polls from the seat and said under law adjourning election at this stage is allowed only if a candidate of a recognised party dies.

Among other prominent candidates in the fray are singer Kalpana Patowary (Sarukhetri) of the AGP, journalists Manjit Mahanta and Hridyananda Gogoi, both from Dispur constituency on Congress and NCP tickets respectively, and Adip Phukan from Gauhati (East) on AJP ticket.

Gauhati (West) has the highest number of 15 candidates while Boko (SC) constituency has the lowest €" three. Dispur constituency has the highest of 4,11,636 voters while Dharmapur has the lowest of 1,41,592 voters.

With inputs from PTI

 

Also See: Assam Assembly election 2021: Full list of 40 constituencies to vote on 6 April; Himanta Biswa Sarma in fray

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