GUWAHATI: The stakes for BJP and its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) will be high when 47 of Assam’s 126 Assembly constituencies go to the first of the three-phase elections on Saturday.
In the 2016 polls, the BJP had bagged 35 of these 47 seats.
The first phase polls will be held across Upper Assam and parts of Northern and Central Assam. Upper Assam is a tea belt and Assamese-majority region. The tea workers virtually determine the fate of candidates in a large number of seats. Their votes have shifted to the BJP since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Northern Assam has a large Assamese and tribal population while Central Assam has a mixed population. The Muslims here are in a majority in several seats. The success of the Congress-led and ten-party grand alliance of Opposition will depend much on how the BJP and the AGP fare in the first phase polls.
It also remains to be seen how the newly-floated Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal fare in the first phase polls. Both were born last year against the backdrop of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Upper Assam had led the protests.
The Congress is playing the CAA card as it goes to the polls. It has promised to nullify the law if voted to power.
The first phase polls will decide the fate of heavyweights including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who is seeking re-election from the river island of Majuli, AGP president and minister Atul Bora, his party colleague and Minister Keshab Mahanta, state Congress chief Ripun Bora, AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi, who is contesting from two seats, and Raijor Dal chief Akhil Gogoi.
There are 264 candidates, including 23 women. The Congress is contesting 43 seats, AJP 41, BJP 39, and AGP 10 in the first phase.