Campaign for second phase in Assam ends

Most of the focus of the campaign was in the Bengali-majority districts of Barak Valley, Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi.
By Utpal Parashar, Biswa Kalyan Purkayastha, Guwahati/silchar
UPDATED ON MAR 31, 2021 05:08 AM IST
“We won’t allow Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to be implemented in Assam," Rahul Gandhi said in a video message to Assam’s voters on Tuesday.(PTI)

Campaigning for the second phase of assembly elections in Assam ended on Tuesday with rain and bad weather playing spoilsport.

Over 7.3 million voters will decide the fates of 345 candidates in 39 seats across 13 districts (of the total 126), which will go to polls on April 1. In the first phase, polling took place in 47 seats in 12 districts on March 27. In the third and final phase 40 seats will go to the polls on April 6.

Prominent candidates in the second phase include Parimal Suklabaidya (Dholai), Pijush Hazarika (Jagiroad), Bhabesh Kalita (Rangia), all ministers in the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, and the assembly deputy speaker Aminul Haque Laskar (Sonai).

The high voltage campaign that saw bigwigs from BJP and Congress touring the state several times in the past week ended on a damp note on Tuesday due to inclement weather.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who was scheduled to address three rallies at Silchar, Halflong and Bokajan couldn’t attend any due to rain and bad weather. A scheduled meeting with journalists at Silchar was also cancelled.

Also read | Heavy turnout in Phase 1 of Assam, Bengal polls

“We won’t allow Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to be implemented in Assam. It is the first of our five guarantees to the people of Assam. The legislation is an attack on Assam’s language, history and culture,” Gandhi said in a video message to Assam’s voters on Tuesday.

He also listed the other four guarantees: government jobs to 500,000 people, increase in daily wage of tea garden workers to 365, 200 units free electricity to all households, and 2000 per month to housewives.

Gandhi accused the BJP of targeting hill tribes in Assam by trying to scrap Article 244A of the constitution, which allows formation of an autonomous region comprising certain tribal areas in the state and creation of a legislature or council of ministers or both.

“While the BJP is trying to attack the culture and traditions of hill tribes by scrapping Article 244A, will implement it,” Gandhi said while appealing voters to bring the Congress-led alliance to power.

Assam has three hill districts, Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, which have five assembly seats, and will go to polls in the second phase.

On Tuesday, BJP national president JP Nadda addressed two rallies at Dharmapur and Bilasipara. He couldn’t attend the third rally at Rani due to rain and bad weather.

“Rahul Gandhi tweets that there is a difference between ‘jumla’ (false promise) and progress. That’s ourpoint too. His (Gandhi’s) grandmother, father and mother made false promises. Who had coined the term ‘garibi hatao’ (remove poverty)? Did they remove poverty? Unlike them, the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ushered development in Assam,” Nadda said at Dharmapur.

Also read | What does it take to win Assam? A fine balance between religion and language

Focus on Barak Valley

Most of the focus of the campaign in the second phase was in the three Bengali-majority districts of Barak Valley, Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi, which have 15 seats in total.

Post the National Register of Citizens, an exercise aimed at listing the state’s citizens, there has been a fear among many in Barak Valley regarding citizenship. The NRC, aimed to exclude illegal immigrants, also left out many who have been living in the state for decades.

The BJP has a strong presence in the region, mainly among Bengali Hindus. The Congress and its ally, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) also have influence in several pockets, the latter among Bengali Muslims. In 2016, the BJP won eight of the 15 seats in the region while the Congress won three and the AIUDF, four.

Many of the BJP’s star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union home minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sharma spattered their speeches with Bengali to appeal to voters from the region. They also termed the Congress alliance with AIUDF communal.

The final day of campaign was supposed to be a star-studded day with Rahul Gandhi, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Sarbananda Sonowal and many campaigners scheduled to visit various parts of the state, but the weather had other plans. .

Campaigning for the second phase of assembly elections in Assam ended on Tuesday with rain and bad weather playing spoilsport.

Over 7.3 million voters will decide the fates of 345 candidates in 39 seats across 13 districts (of the total 126), which will go to polls on April 1. In the first phase, polling took place in 47 seats in 12 districts on March 27. In the third and final phase 40 seats will go to the polls on April 6.

Prominent candidates in the second phase include Parimal Suklabaidya (Dholai), Pijush Hazarika (Jagiroad), Bhabesh Kalita (Rangia), all ministers in the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, and the assembly deputy speaker Aminul Haque Laskar (Sonai).

The high voltage campaign that saw bigwigs from BJP and Congress touring the state several times in the past week ended on a damp note on Tuesday due to inclement weather.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who was scheduled to address three rallies at Silchar, Halflong and Bokajan couldn’t attend any due to rain and bad weather. A scheduled meeting with journalists at Silchar was also cancelled.

Also read | Heavy turnout in Phase 1 of Assam, Bengal polls

“We won’t allow Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to be implemented in Assam. It is the first of our five guarantees to the people of Assam. The legislation is an attack on Assam’s language, history and culture,” Gandhi said in a video message to Assam’s voters on Tuesday.

He also listed the other four guarantees: government jobs to 500,000 people, increase in daily wage of tea garden workers to 365, 200 units free electricity to all households, and 2000 per month to housewives.

Gandhi accused the BJP of targeting hill tribes in Assam by trying to scrap Article 244A of the constitution, which allows formation of an autonomous region comprising certain tribal areas in the state and creation of a legislature or council of ministers or both.

“While the BJP is trying to attack the culture and traditions of hill tribes by scrapping Article 244A, will implement it,” Gandhi said while appealing voters to bring the Congress-led alliance to power.

Assam has three hill districts, Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, which have five assembly seats, and will go to polls in the second phase.

On Tuesday, BJP national president JP Nadda addressed two rallies at Dharmapur and Bilasipara. He couldn’t attend the third rally at Rani due to rain and bad weather.

“Rahul Gandhi tweets that there is a difference between ‘jumla’ (false promise) and progress. That’s ourpoint too. His (Gandhi’s) grandmother, father and mother made false promises. Who had coined the term ‘garibi hatao’ (remove poverty)? Did they remove poverty? Unlike them, the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ushered development in Assam,” Nadda said at Dharmapur.

Also read | What does it take to win Assam? A fine balance between religion and language

Focus on Barak Valley

Most of the focus of the campaign in the second phase was in the three Bengali-majority districts of Barak Valley, Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi, which have 15 seats in total.

Post the National Register of Citizens, an exercise aimed at listing the state’s citizens, there has been a fear among many in Barak Valley regarding citizenship. The NRC, aimed to exclude illegal immigrants, also left out many who have been living in the state for decades.

The BJP has a strong presence in the region, mainly among Bengali Hindus. The Congress and its ally, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) also have influence in several pockets, the latter among Bengali Muslims. In 2016, the BJP won eight of the 15 seats in the region while the Congress won three and the AIUDF, four.

Many of the BJP’s star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union home minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sharma spattered their speeches with Bengali to appeal to voters from the region. They also termed the Congress alliance with AIUDF communal.

The final day of campaign was supposed to be a star-studded day with Rahul Gandhi, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Sarbananda Sonowal and many campaigners scheduled to visit various parts of the state, but the weather had other plans. .

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