Sunday, April 10, 2011

Final phase of Assam polls set to see close contest

Supratim Dey  | 2011-04-10 00:10:00 

Sunshine and rains greeted voters in different parts of the 13 distri...
Guwahati: Around 97,000 voters will decide the fate of 496 candidates in the second and final phase of the assembly polls in Assam on April 11.
Tarun Gogoi’s Cabinet colleagues - Himanta Biswa Sarma, Rockybul Hussain, Akon Bora, Pramila Rani Brahma, Chandan Brahma, and Bhumidhar Barman - are in the fray in the second phase of the polls. Pradesh Congress president Bhubaneswar Kalita, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, is also contesting the polls.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) heavyweights who will try their luck in the polls are party president Chandra Mohan Patowary, two-time chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Phani Bhusan Chowdhury and Keshab Mahanta.
Among the constituencies that are set to witness a tough battle on April 11 is the prestigious Dispur constituency in Guwahati as senior AGP leader Atul Bora is pitted against social welfare minister Akon Bora.
Samaguri constituency, in central Assam, too will witness a bitter fight as it is Prafulla Kumar Mahanta versus Rockybul

India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which champions the cause of Muslims, might upset the prospects of the Congress party in the Muslim-dominated districts of Dubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Nalbari, Nagaon and Morigaon. Barring three Barak Valley districts of Hailakandi, Cachar and Karimgangj, the AIUDF has a limited support base in the districts that went to polls in the first phase.

The AIUDF, which was formed in 2006 and surprisingly won 10 seats in the 2006 assembly elections, is hopeful to increase its tally this time and play a dominant role in government formation in Dispur. The party had said recently that, if circumstance arose, it would shed its anti-Congress stand and support a “secular” government even if headed by the Congress party.

The recent declaration of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which is an alliance partner in the Gogoi government (the Congress has 53 seats in the outgoing assembly), that it would not hesitate to lend its support to a non-Congress government post elections, too is keeping the Congress jittery. The BPF has also made its position clear that the party might come to the rescue of Congress only if Tarun Gogoi leads the party again. Rumours are rife in Congress circles that state party president Bhubaneswar Kalita too is vying for the top post, should the Congress form the government.

The Congress party, knowing that the outcome of the elections might not be as favourable as being hoped, is keeping both the AIUDF and BPF in good humour. Gogoi, who once dared Ajmal by his remark – “who is Ajmal?” – said on April 6 that he would be happy if AIUDF supports Congress in government formation. The fine-tuning of Gogoi comes at a time when there appears a possibility of an AGP-BJP combine forming the government in Dispur with the support of other smaller parties.

The BJP, which has been buoyant in Assam since the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when it won four seats out of the eight it contested, expects to improve its tally from the present 10 seats in the next assembly and form a non-Congress and non-AIUDF government. Though the AGP and BJP had a pre-poll alliance promise for the 2011 polls, the former reneged as the alliance in 2009 Lok Sabha polls did not translate into votes for the regional party.

However, both the parties have made it clear that if need be, they would go for a post-poll alliance.

Despite Gogoi predicting a wash-out for the BJP in the polls, the steady and rapid rise of the BJP has been a worrying factor for the Congress as could be gauged from the fact that Gogoi, during his electioneering, had chosen to attack the BJP more scathingly than the AGP.

The regional party, which had fared badly in the 2006 polls and won just 24 out of 126 seats, hopes to present a better performance this time as former chief minister Prafulla Mahanta is back in the AGP. In 2006, Mahanta had contested under the banner of AGP (Pragatisheel), after being ousted from the party.

If 2006 was a fight between the Congress and the AGP, there are two new entrants in the battlefield this time around, the BJP and AIUDF, of which, at least one is expected to play a role in the next government formation. If BJP and AIUDF stand to be gainers in the elections, it would be interesting to see which party or parties will lose seats to them.

If the Congress makes it to Dispur, it would be the first party to win three consecutive terms post Emergency.

No comments:

Post a Comment