The Election Commission today announced a three-phased assembly polls for Assam from March 27. Counting for all the three phases will take place on May 2. The ruling BJP will try to retain power in the state while the Congress will try to win Assam back. Both parties and even the state's people however wanted the elections to take place before the festival of Rongali Bihu that happens in mid-April.
Announcing the poll dates for four states and a union territory, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said: Of the 126 seats in Assam assembly, 47 will go to polls on March 27 in the first phase, 39 constituencies will go to polls on April 1 in the second phase and 40 seats will go to polls in the third and final phase on April 6.
Region wise, the first phase's 47 seats are in Upper Assam, where in the 2016 assembly polls the BJP swept the elections. This is also the region that saw massive anti-Citizenship law protests in the last two years and has majority of the indigenous communities as well as the tea garden vote bank.
In second phase, the 39 seats going to polls would be from the Bengali-dominated Barak valley region and the tribal-dominated Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong. In this phase, the middle region of the state will also go to polls.
In the third and last phase, in lower Assam, the Bengali Muslim community dominates the voters' list. The Bodoland region also goes to polls in the last phase.
With the announcement of dates, the Model Code of Conduct has also come into effect.
This is first election in northeast after the Congress was ousted from the region. In the northeast, the BJP has successfully obtained power - this time it is about retaining it.
For the first time in Assam, Congress is not going solo. The party has formed an alliance with once arch-rival - Badaruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF, a smaller regional outfit - Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) and three Left parties.
The two regional parties born out of the anti-CAA protests in Assam - the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) formed by former members of All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and other civil society groups and the Raijor Dol, formed by the supporters of noted activist Akhil Gogoi who is in jail for over a year on sedition charges over the anti-CAA protests.
AJP and Raijor Dol has formed a regional alliance, turning the Assam polls into a three-way battle.
This will also be the first election for the Congress without former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. The party has no chief ministerial face yet.
According to party sources, BJP is not projecting any chief ministerial candidate this time.
The BJP's pitch is to protect the rights, land culture, language of the indigenous communities of Assam against the migrant settlers from the Bengali Muslim community. Development and flood free Assam are the other pitches of the BJP.
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has also promised repayment of micro-finance loans.
The Congress has pitched the rollback of the Citizenship law if voted to power. The party has launched its high intensity Assam Bashaon Ahok (Come, lets save Assam campaign). The party had also pitched for Rs 365 per day wage for tea garden workers and total loan waiver for micro-finance loans.
The AJP and Raijor Dal have pitched to drive away illegal immigrants as per the Assam Accord, irrespective of religion and the total rollback of the CAA and the release of Akhil Gogoi.