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Parties walk down beaten tracks

The Congress is riding on the development plank and the BJP is stuck on the illegal migrants issue.
None | By Digambar Patowary, Tinsukia
UPDATED ON MAR 29, 2006 09:47 PM IST

What keeps the Assam poll pot boiling? Nothing new, just the stock issues that did their rounds in 2001. Campaign for both the phases is on in full swing. And the Congress, still at the helm, is riding on the development plank; touting its achievements under the Tarun Gogoi government.
The BJP is stuck on the illegal migrants issue. It alleges that the soft stand of the Congress vis-à-vis Bangladeshi infiltrators is still a thorn in Assam's quest for identity. The other aspect of its campaign is Gogoi's failure to make Assam self-reliant economically.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), once hailed as the state's regional face, is groping for a credible is sue. And falling back on clichés: Only a regional party can bail the state out of the morass. But the regional argument does not cut ice with the masses, fed up with insurgency and failed peace missions.

So who are the spearheads? Gogoi as usual is leading the Congress campaign. Hit by Sonia Gandhi's resignation, the chief minister and his men lost track of the trail briefly. But it seems to have recovered sufficiently to rope in Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to curry for votes. They will arrive on March 30 and April 1 respectively. The line-up also includes defence minister Pranab Mukherjee, A.R. Antulay and Digvijay Singh.

The BJP is not to be left behind. It is one up on the Congress. Apart from the national leadership -Rajnath Singh, leader of Opposition L. K. Advani, Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, three chief minister of BJP ruled states — it also had actor Hema Malini and Smriti Irani up its campaign sleeve. The glamour duo has done its bit.

Jharkhand BJP heavyweight Babulal Marandi is currently campaigning in the gardens and chief minister Arjun Munda will arrive on March 30. Sadly, the AGP has no one to flaunt. The onus is on party president Brindaban Goswami , MPs Sarbananda Sonowal and Arun Sarma.

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