Assam: Campaigning ends for second phase of Assembly polls

Assam: Campaigning ends for second phase of Assembly polls

Guwahati: A high-octane electoral campaign for the second phase of Assam assembly polls, spearheaded by an array of national and state leaders, came to an end on Tuesday evening.

The second phase of state elections will decide the fate of 345 candidates in 39 seats going to polls on April 1.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) issue was at the forefront of the campaign, with the BJP, which had maintained a studied silence on it in the run up to the first phase of voting, raising it in the Barak Valley this time as a carrot to the predominantly Hindu Bengali population, some of whom have their roots in Bangladesh.

While releasing the party manifesto for the Assam polls, BJP president J P Nadda had made a reference to the CAA, mentioning that it would be implemented in time.

Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah, in his election rallies at Patharkandi and Silchar, mentioned the controversial legislation, for the first time, assuring that citizenship rights will be given to refugees, while aserting at the same time that the BJP will not allow infiltrators to enter the state.

The BJP was, particularly, strident in its attack on AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal accusing him of encouraging illegal infiltration, leading to encroachments and "land and love jihad" which the party has promised to tackle.

Besides claims of development initatives taken for Assam by the BJP's 'double-engine' governments both at the Centre and the state, the party has also attacked the Congress for aligning with the AIUDF and allegedly encouraging infiltration for its "vested interest of creating a votE-bank".

After the announcement of poll dates in February end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his campaign from Karimganj in Barak Valley.

The Barak Valley has 15 seats in the 126-member state assembly.

Modi also held a rally at Sipajhar from where former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Paramanda Rajbongshi is contesting as the BJP candidate.

BJP president J P Nadda had sounded the party's poll bugle from Silchar in Barak Valley, nearly two months before the Election Commission of India had announced the schedule for the state elections in the northeastern state.

Both Modi and Nadda highlighted that the people of Barak Valley had sent party candidates to the assembly much before the saffron party made significant inroads in Assam.

All the 39 constituencies, spread over 13 districts of the Barak Valley, three hill districts, and parts of central and lower Assam, witnessed last minute canvassing by candidates and their supporters.

Among the prominent BJP leaders who campaigned for candidates in the second phase are central ministers Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Narendra Tomar, Jitendra Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan among others.

The BJP, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) are alliance partners.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who was scheduled to address election rallies at Haflong and Bokajan during the day and interact with women at Silchar was unable to reach due to inclement weather.

However, communicating with voters through video message, he said, the party-led Grand Alliance will implement its poll promise of 'five guarantees'.

The 'five guarantees' include 'nullifying' the CAA in the state, providing five lakh government jobs to youths in five years, 200 units of free electricity, raising the daily- wage of tea garden workers from the current Rs 193 to Rs 365 and Rs 2,000 per month to homemakers.

The prominent personalities to canvass for candidates of the Grand Alliance, comprising the Congress, AIUDF, the Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF), the CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML-L), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Anchalika Gana Morcha (AGM) included Rajya Sabha MPs Mallikaarjun Kharge, Dr Nasir Hussain and Dr Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Chhatisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

Former chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath and Maharashtra's Ashok Chavan, AICC leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal and CPI's Kanhaiya Kumar had also campaigned for the Grand Alliance candidates.

At the state level, the BJP's campaign trail was led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa, who has so far addressed the maximum number of election rallies, and several ministers of the outgoing assembly.

For the Congress, state unit president Ripun Bora, Lok Sabha MPs Pradyut Bordoloi, Gaurav Gogoi and Abdul Khaleque led the campaign along with AICC in-charge of Assam Jitendra Singh.

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