DISPUR: The polling for the second phase of the three-phased assembly elections in Assam will take place on Thursday.
A total of 39 constituencies out of the remaining 79 are going to polls in the second phase. In the first phase, 47 seats went to polls in the 126-member assembly.
The BJP had lined up star campaigners in the poll-bound constituencies with party's national president JP Nadda addressing three rallies, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi campaigning in Badarpur and Sonai while Smriti Irani touring three regions-Borbhag, Gauripur, and Dhubri. The Congress had also brought in Rahul Gandhi to give a last-minute push to its candidates. However, Gandhi was not able to reach the state due to bad weather on Tuesday -- the day campaigning came to an end for the second phase.
The second phase of elections will decide the fate of 345 candidates.
A total of 345 candidates are in the fray for 39 constituencies. While 649 nominations were filed, 30 of them were rejected and 33 were withdrawn. Of the 345 candidates, there are four ministers and the deputy speaker of the Assam assembly.
Prominent faces from the BJP include ministers Parimal Suklabaidya from Dholai, Bhabesh Kalita from Rangia, Pijush Hazarika from Jagiroad, and Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar from Sonai. Notably, former Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul is contesting as an Independent candidate from Silchar after he was denied a ticket by the BJP. He had resigned from the party following the ticket row.
The election in the second phase includes 15 assembly seats in the Barak Valley. In the 2016 polls, BJP had bagged eight seats six from Cachar district and two from bordering Karimganj district, which shares boundaries with Bangladesh.
Assam Minister Parimal Suklabaidya is contesting from the Dholai seat for the seventh time on a BJP ticket. State minister Piyush Hazarika is contesting from Jagiroad and Bhabesh Kalita, also a minister, from the Rangia seat.
Former Congress minister Gautam Roy is contesting from Katigorah on a BJP ticket, while former Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, who resigned from the BJP after he was denied ticket, is contesting as an Independent from Silchar.
Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary is contesting from Panery and former Asam Sahitya Sabha President Paramananda Rajbongshi is trying his luck from Sipajhar. Former Assam Minister for Hill Areas Development, Mines and Minerals and Congress leader Sum Ronghang is in the fray from the Diphu seat.
The BJP formed the first party-led government in Assam after securing a thumping win in the 2016 elections. BJP and its allies won 86 out of 126 seats and ousted the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government which ruled the state for 15 years.
The main contest is seen to be between the alliances led by BJP and Congress.
The BJP-led led alliance also includes the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL).
Congress has stitched a broad alliance that includes All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, the Anchalik Gana Marcha (AGM), and the Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF).
Jailed activist Akhil Gogoi's Raijor Dal has stitched an alliance with Assam Jatiya Parishad.The BJP is banking on the performance of the Sarbanand Sonowal government in the state in the past five years, the initiatives of the central government, and the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Mahajath leaders also campaigned extensively in the second phase seats.
The second phase saw the debate over Citizenship Amendment Act. While the BJP leaders said that they will implement CAA, Congress has promised to "nullify it".
The BJP has been targeting the Congress party over its alliance with AIUDF and has been raising the issue of infiltration. Party leaders have said that Congress has allied with those who have "favoured infiltration".
The BJP has also promised to free the state of the problem of recurrent floods. "We want to make Assam free from floods. Satellite mapping will be done, reservoirs will be created. We want to make every village in the state 'aatmanirbhar'," Nadda said at a public meeting in Dharmapur.
The Congress, on the other hand, has promised five lakh government jobs to youth in five years, 200 units of free electricity, taking daily-wage of tea garden workers to Rs 365 and Rs 2,000 per month to homemakers.
"Congress has given five guarantees to voters of Assam. We are not BJP, we fulfill our promises. Tea garden workers must remember our guarantee of Rs 365 per day as minimum wage," Gandhi said on Wednesday.
According to the Election Commission, there are 73,44,631 electors in the 39 constituencies going to polls in the second phase. Of these, 37,34,537 are males, 36,09,959 are females and 135 are transgenders.
According to the state election commission, the constituency with the highest number of electors in Phase II is Hojai. It has 373 polling stations and 2,65,886 voters. The constituency having the lowest number of electors is Howraghat in Karbi Anglong district with 195 polling stations and 1,32,339 electors.
Over 73.44 lakh voters electors are eligible to cast their vote in the second phase of the election.
The polling would begin at 7 am and conclude at 6 pm on April 1.