High-pitched campaign ends for first phase of Assam polls
The state goes to the polls in the first phase on April 4 in which 65 of the 126 Assembly constituencies will go to the hustings. The campaign was characterised by a no-holds barred tirade of allegations and counter-allegations and Congress going all out to retain power for the fourth successive term.
BJP-AGP-BPF alliance is attempting to wrest power while All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) claims to be the “king-maker” in the next government formation in Assam.
The political leaders on Saturday made last minute efforts to woo the 95,11,732 electorate, including 45,95,712 females, who will exercise their franchise in the first phase to decide the fate of 539 candidates–496 males and 43 females, in fray for the first phase in 50 constituencies of Brahmaputra Valley and 15 in Barak Valley.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the campaign from the front for the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance in the state along with party president Amit Shah and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, Juel Oram and Sarbananda Sonowal, who is also the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
For Congress, it was party president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, state unit president Anjan Dutta along with former UPA ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid among others who campaigned for its candidates.
The other prominent political party leaders who campaigned during the first phase included JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav for AIUDF which has entered into an alliance with the JD(U) and (RJD), actor-turned-MP Raj Babbar of Congress and Manoj Tiwary of BJP and Congress spokesperson and President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee.
BJP in its campaign appealed to the electorate to vote for “parivartan” (change) to usher in development while the Congress highlighted its various achievements, including improvement in law and order situation during the last 15 years of its rule.
Congress is contesting in all the 65 constituencies going to polls on Monday while BJP is contesting in 54, its alliance partner AGP in 11 and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) in three.
All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) is contesting in 27 constituencies, CPI and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) in 10 each, CPI(ML)(L) in six along with 60 others from unrecognised parties and 13 independents.
Meanwhile, campaigning for the initial part of the first phase of West Bengal Assembly polls ended on Saturday, two day before 18 constituencies of maoist-affected areas in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura will vote. 133 candidates will try their luck in the first of the six phases of Assembly elections.
Hate ads: EC orders prior clearance by media panel before publication
The Election Commission on Saturday directed that no newspaper advertisement be published on April 3 and 4 in poll-bound Assam and West Bengal without prior clearance, a move which came against the backdrop of controversial advertisements issued by Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) during Bihar elections. The first phase of election in Assam and West Bengal will be held on April 4.
In a direction issued to the Chief Electoral Officers of Assam and West Bengal, the Commission said that instances of “advertisements of offending and misleading nature” have been brought to its notice in the past. “Such advertisements in the last stage of election vitiates the election. The affected candidates and parties will not have any opportunity of providing clarification or rebuttal in such cases,” it said.