BJP’s biggest problem is its number two man in Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, and his chief ministerial ambitions. HBS, himself an early defector from Congress, has packed the candidates’ list with people personally loyal to him. He is perceived as the de facto chief minister and far more powerful than Sarbananda Sonowal.
BJP has also denied ticket to 11 sitting MLAs including a cabinet minister. More heads are likely to roll when the second list is announced.
Congress, on the other hand, has given ticket to 16 new faces for seats in the first phase of polling. Many of the new candidates are young with grassroot connections and seem to have greater acceptability among people.
The newly formed third alliance of Raijor Dal (RD) and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) is the dark horse. While Raijor Dal was formed by supporters of the jailed Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi, AJP was formed by former AASU leaders who came out in the open against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). A large number of young voters, who were once supporters of BJP, have now joined the AJP and this alliance may cut into the votes of BJP-AGP combine.
While Akhil Gogoi wanted to have some truck with the Congress minus the AIUDF as he considers BJP more dangerous, AJP apparently rejected the idea. Now Gogoi has asked his supporters to vote for opposition candidates wherever RD has not fielded its candidates. Assam thus will witness a triangular fight in almost all constituencies. The CAA has also helped consolidate Muslim voters and others opposed to the CAA in favour of the grand alliance.
Over the years, Congress has seen a steady erosion of its traditional support base among tea garden workers. But the instant rapport that AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra struck with the workers on a recent visit has come as a shot in its arm.
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