Assam will go into state elections from March 27- April 6. (Representative image).
Assam will go into elections on March 27 to vote for its 15th Legislative Assembly. The state assembly polls, which happens once every five years, has been divided into three phases this year. The election is being fought to elect 126 MLA to its 15th legislative assembly.
Here's everything you need to know for the upcoming state polls-
As mentioned earlier, this year's election will happen in three phases. The first phase is scheduled for March 27, where 47 constituencies will be voting. The second phase will see 39 constituencies voting on April 1. The final and third phase is on April 6 for the remaining 40 constituencies.
The results of the election will be announced on May 2, along with the results of the other 4 states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal & Puducherry- that also conducted their state polls.
The voting for this election will take place in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. To ensure social distancing, there will be a total of 33,530 polling stations, which is a 34.71 percent increase in the number of polling stations.
You can check other dates related to the elections here.
Parties and their alliances
There are 13 political parties in the fray, including two coalitions led by the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Congress. The 2016 assembly elections saw the BJP form its first government in the state, and the party is now looking to score a second term. Meanwhile, Congress, once the strongest political player in the state, is aiming to reclaim office after being reduced to just 26 seats in the 126-seat assembly.
The first major alliance for this year's election is led by the BJP. Supporting them is the regional regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL). BJP will be contesting in 92 seats out of 126 seats, AGP will be contesting from 26 seats and UPPL will be contesting from eight seats.
The Congress coalition, called ‘Mahajoth’, includes Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), Communist Party of India (CPI), the CPI (M), the CPI (ML), and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Along with these 7 parties, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which contested the 2016 election with the BJP, is now fighting with Congress. Congress is contesting 90 seats and the rest of the allies will fight for 36 seats.
There is a third front as well, running the race. It includes two parties that were born out of the anti-CAA movement in the state- the Jatiya Parishad and the Raijor Dal. The two parties have come together as the United Regional Front.
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Giving a quick recap of the last state election, BJP won 60 of the 84 seats it contested, the AGP won 14 of the 24 it contested and the UPPL did not win any seat. Congress, which had been in power in the state for three straight terms under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi won 26 seats out of 122 it contested.
Unfortunately, Tarun Gogoi passed away in November 2020 after battling with post-Covid complications. In Tarun Gogoi's absence, Congress is relying on his son Gaurav Gogoi, who is helming the party's 'Assam Bachao' campaign, but he is unlikely to be a contender for the CM post.
The BJP led collation has decided to not project any face for the CM post either, saying it will decide on the same post the results.
Key players to watch out for
Unlike now, in 2016, Assam's current CM Sarbananda Sonowal was projected as the CM candidate. However, this time with no clarity, the position seems open to Sonowal as well as Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Himanta, who shifted to BJP from Congress, was the party's chief strategist for the 2016 election. Sonowal will be contesting from Majuli and Sarma from Jalukbari.
Other BJP candidates include actor and incumbent MLA Angoorlata Deka fighting for Batadroba seat, Ashok Singhal for Dhekiajuli and Padma Hazarika for Sootea.
When it comes to Congress the candidates to watch out for- Ripun Bora contesting the Gohpur seat, Debabrata Saikia for Nazira and Rupjyoti Kurmi for Mariani.
President of the third collation, Jatiya Parishad, Lurinjyoti Gogoi is contesting from Duliajan. Gogoi was former All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) president.
Activist Akhil Gogoi, who has been in jail for more than a year over allegations that he instigated violence during the anti-CAA protests in 2019-20, is contesting his maiden election as part of his newly floated Raijor Dal, or “people’s party”. He will contest from Sivasagar.
Talking points for this election
Assam’s voting pattern is highly influenced by its complex history — a major factor being the continuous influx of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in the post-Independence period, especially after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
There is a strong sense of Assamese sub-nationalism in the upper Brahmaputra Valley, where the CAA became a major issue. Hence CAA and NRC are one of the key issues for this election.
When Congress released its manifesto, it guaranteed to nullify the CAA. BJP, which is treading a tight rope, has promised to work on the 'corrected National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam's protection'.
The issues of tea garden workers is also another key factor that will determine this election. In the recent Union Budget, the government announced a package of Rs 1,000 crore for tea garden workers in West Bengal and Assam. The state government has recently transferred Rs 3,000 into the accounts of over 7 lakh tea garden workers.
However, many workers' representatives have called this insufficient. They have been demanding a wage hike from the existing Rs 167 per day to Rs 351.33.
Additionally, problems related to unemployment, COVID-19, rising fuel prices are some of the other talking points this election.