With the nomination of 284 candidates found valid for the first phase of the Assam Assembly elections scheduled on March 27 for 47 seats, the stage is set for a month-long hectic poll campaign by the contending political parties. Top leaders of the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have already made a preliminary round of the poll battleground. State BJP star campaigners Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have already made forays into the interiors of the State to boost their party candidates along with the candidates of their allies, the Asom Gana Parishad, GSP and the UPPL. The Opposition alliance of the Congress, AIUDF and the Left parties are also not lagging behind. Unlike the 2016 elections when the Congress was on the defensive and the BJP alliance was holding sway, its alliance with the AIUDF has this time given it confidence to take the BJP head on. As such there has been a big scramble for party tickets for the ensuing polls. It is seen that most of the parties have gone for a mix of the old and young. Many veterans like former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Brindaban Goswami and a number of sitting MLAs have not been re-nominated by their parties. Mahanta has accepted his party’s decision. However, a number of deprived candidates have decided to contest the polls defying their parties. These independent candidates will definitely alter the permutation and combination of the contending parties in several constituencies.
In a new twist to the poll battle, the call of the Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal to keep away from the BJP and AIUDF, dubbing them as communal parties, has proved to be a spanner in the Congress strategy to put up an anti-CAA front. This has proved to be a dampener for the Congress alliance in certain seats where they were expecting to take advantage of the anti-CAA sentiments of the voters. According to the Congress alliance this move will only help the BJP. Significantly, both the new regional outfits, the Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad are putting up candidates in several constituencies, thereby adding to the Congress concern that they would be eating into the alliance votes. With the ruling BJP alliance scaling up the attacks on the Cong-AIUDF alliance as an unholy nexus of anti-Assam forces out to destroy its language and culture, the Congress is also hitting out at the BJP by trying to neutralize its influence on the tea workers, unemployed, farmers and youth. The State Election Department has meanwhile completed the processes for holding the polls in a free, fair and peaceful manner. It is hoped that the contending political parties maintain the rules and regulations to help the authorities to hold a free, fair and peaceful polls in the State.