Guwahati: The first phase of Assam Assembly Elections will be held on Saturday with 264 candidates, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state Congress chief Ripun Bora and 23 women candidates in the fray.
The campaign for the first phase of elections to 47 Assembly seats, including eight seats reserved for the tribals, ended on Thursday. Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade said that all preparations have been completed to conduct free, fair, peaceful and smooth elections on Saturday, when 8,109,815 voters, including 4,032,481 females, will cast their votes across 11,537 polling stations.
In the first phase of polling, Sonowal will be seeking re-election from Majuli, the world's largest river island, state Congress President Ripun Bora will contest from Gohpur, while Asom Gana Parishad chuief Atul Bora will seek re-election from Bokakhat.
According to the elections officials, 85-year-old Premadhar Bora is the oldest among the 264 candidates, while there are nine candidates who are 25 years old or less. Independent candidate Bora is contesting from the Bihpuria constituency in eastern Assam.
ALL EYES ON ASSAM
In the month long hectic election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President JP Nadda, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan campaigned for the BJP candidates.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan, AICC spokesman Gourav Vallabh and Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala were among the central leaders who campaigned for the party candidatesin Assam.
In the Assam Assembly elections, the ruling BJP is highlighting the "perfect NRC (National Register of Citizens)" more while the main opposition Congress has given top priority to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), even as both the national parties have common issues of empowerment of women, jobs to youth and protecting the Assamese culture.
The Congress has promised "Five Guarantees" to the voters in its manifesto, including restarting the process of NRC, repealing the CAA, Rs 365 daily wage to tea garden workers, 5 lakh jobs in five years, Rs 2,000 per month to housewives and 200 units free electricity per household.
The BJP's 'Sankalp Patra' said that there are 10 main focal issues in the manifesto to be implemented in letter and spirit after the party comes to power for a second term in Assam.
The saffron party's main promises include controlling floods in Assam, empowering the women under the state's flagship scheme "Orunodoi", increasing the monthly payment of Rs 830 to Rs 3,000 covering 30 lakh deserving families,
The BJP also promised to boost the future of Assam's children by providing free and quality education with trained teachers under the 'Mission Bala Unnayan' in state government-run institutions. After the Bodoland Territorial Council polls in December last year, the BJP had forged an alliance with the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), discarding its old ally Bodoland People's Front (BPF). The AGP is the BJP's second important ally.
To take on the ruling BJP in the forthcoming elections, the Congress has formed a 10-party 'Mahajot' (grand alliance) with three Left parties -- CPI (M), CPI and CPI (ML) -- along with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the Anchalik Gana Morcha, BPF, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and two community-based parties -- Jimochayan (Deori) People's Party (JDPP) and Adivasi National Party (ANP).
The 126-member Assam Assembly will go to the polls in three phases on March 27 (47 seats), April 1 (39 seats) and April 6 (40 seats). The results will be declared on May 2.
(With inputs from IANS)