GUWAHATI: BJP’s chances of forming its first government in Assam will depend on its performance in the first of the two-phase polls on Monday.
Altogether 65 of the 126 constituencies are going to the polls in the first phase. Traditionally, most of these have been Congress bastions until the BJP started making inroads. They are located in eastern, northern and southern Assam.
In the tea-belt of eastern and northern Assam, the Adivasis or tea garden workers constitute a large number of the voters. They voted in favour of the Congress for long until embracing the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when the saffron party won all four seats there.
The Congress is on firmer footing in southern Assam’s Barak Valley. In the 2011 Assembly polls, it grabbed 13 of the 15 seats there. Subsequently, in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, it won one of the two seats, minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) bagging the other. But even here, the BJP has managed to consolidate its base.
During poll rallies in the Assamese heartland of eastern and northern Assam, BJP played on fears that Congress had proposed the post of deputy CM for AIUDF chief Maulana Badruddin Ajmal in the event of a Congress-AIUDF coalition. This was an attempt, ostensibly, to polarise Hindu votes. Congress played the development card and appealed to voters to vote it to power for the fourth time in a row, for maintenance of peace.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Union Sports Minister and state BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal, former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar and Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi are among the prominent candidates whose fate will be decided in this phase.