BJP releases first list of 70 candidates for Assam polls
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), heading the coalition government in Assam, released a list of 70 candidates on Friday for the first two phases of the assembly polls in the state.
National general secretary of the party Arun Singh released the list in Delhi in the presence of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
As per the seat-sharing formula decided after several meetings in Delhi over the past two days, the BJP will contest 92 of the total 126 seats while alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) will contest 26. Eight seats have been allotted to new ally United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL).
Voting for the election to the Assam assembly would take place in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6. Names of the remaining BJP candidates will be announced later.
Sonowal will contest his present constituency Majuli while Dass and Sarma would contest the Patacharkuchi and Jalukbari seats (which will go to the polls in the third phase) respectively. Dass represented the Sarbhog seat in 2016.
“The decision to allot the Patacharkuchi seat to our state unit chief was taken as per the wishes of local party workers. Hence respecting their demand, Dass would contest a new seat,” Sarma said.
In the first list, 11 of the BJP’s sitting MLAs have been replaced with new faces. There is speculation that upset with denial of tickets, several of these legislators could join other parties or contest as independent candidates.
Two former Congress ministers, Gautam Roy and Ajanta Neog, who joined the BJP a few months ago were given tickets from the Katigorah and Golaghat seats, respectively.
The alliance partners decided not to give a ticket to former chief minister and AGP founder Prafulla Kumar Mahanta from the Barhampur seat, which he has been winning consecutively since 1991.
Mahanta who was undergoing treatment in Delhi returned to Guwahati on Friday. There is speculation that a miffed Mahanta might split the party and field candidates on 15 seats or even join the Congress-led alliance.
Mahanta’s seat will be contested by the BJP this time. The saffron party will also have candidates in three other seats, Lakhimpur, Kamalpur and Naharkatiya, which the AGP won in 2016. Similarly, the AGP got the Raha and Chabua seats won by the BJP five years ago.
Addressing the press conference, AGP president Atul Bora announced the names of the 26 seats the party would contest, without disclosing candidates’ names. The list of seats allotted to the UPPL and its candidates will be announced later in Guwahati.
In 2016, the BJP fielded candidates on 84 seats and won 60 while the AGP contested 24 and won 14. The Bodoland Peoples’ Front, which was part of the BJP-led coalition but joined the Congress-led grand alliance this time, won 12 of the 16 seats it contested.