Stage set for Assam's final phase of polling in 40 seats

Stage set for Assams final phase of polling in 40 seats

Guwahati: Assam is all set to witness direct and triangular contests in 40 assembly constituencies that are going to polls in the last of the three phases on Tuesday to decide the fate of 337 candidates, including senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his five cabinet colleagues and BJP state unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.

A direct contest between nominees of the BJP-led NDA and Congress-headed Grand Alliance is on the cards in 20 constituencies while there is a triangular fight, including friendly contests, in the remaining seats with the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) being considered as the third force.

The newly floated AJP is contesting in 22 seats while there are 126 independents in the fray in the final phase of the election in which the BJP-led coalition is seeking to return to power for the second term in a row. Polling will begin at 7 am and end at 6 pm, with the timing extended by an hour to ensure that COVID protocols are maintained in the constituencies spread across 12 districts.

There are 25 women candidates contesting in this phase.

The fate of 20 sitting MLAs - eight from the Congress, five from the BJP, three each from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the BPF and one from the AGP –will be decided in the final phase.

The first two phases of the election were held on March 27 and April 1. Votes will be counted on May 2.

The BJP is contesting in 20 seats while its allies the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in nine and the United Peoples Party Liberal in eight, including a friendly contest between the saffron party and the UPPL in Bijni.

The Congress has put up 24 candidates and its partners - the AIUDF in 12, the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) in eight and CPI(M) in one. The Congress and the AIUDF are engaged in friendly contests in the five constituencies of Jaleswar, Baghbar, Sarukhetri, Chenga and Barkhetri.

The BJP has severed its ties with its earlier ally, the BPF, and entered into an alliance with the UPPL since the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls in December but decided to keep the BPF in the government till the assembly polls.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, a powerful minister and the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the NDAs version in the region, is locked in a direct contest with Congress candidate Romen Chandra Barthakur in a bid to retain the Jalukbari seat for the fifth consecutive term.

BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, who earlier represented Sorbhog, is now locked in a triangular contest with the AJP's working president Pabindra Deka and the Congress' Santanu Sarma in Patacharkuchi. The constituency was earlier represented by Deka as an AGP member but he resigned from the party to join the AJP.

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