Assam assembly polls: Stage set for first phase voting on April 4

Assam assembly polls: Stage set for first phase voting on April 4

The first phase will witness mostly direct contest between the ruling Congress and the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance though the AIUDF has put up candidates in 27 constituencies where the fight is expected to be triangular.

Jorhat: Election Polling officer and security personnel along with their belongings wait to depart to their polling booth center on the eve of the 1st phase of Assam State Assembly election 2016 at Jorhat in Assam on Sunday. PTI Photo
Jorhat: Election Polling officer and security personnel along with their belongings wait to depart to their polling booth center on the eve of the 1st phase of Assam State Assembly election 2016 at Jorhat in Assam on Sunday. PTI Photo

The battle for Assam has begun. The ruling Congress, the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance and the AIUDF are locked in a keen battle as the stage is set for the first phase of Assam assembly polls to be held amidst tight security on April 4 for deciding the fate of 539 candidates in 65 of the 126 constituencies.

The voting will take place in two phases- first phase of 65 constituencies on April 4 and second phase 61 constituencies on April 11. The counting of votes will be held on May 19.

Map loading… (Click here)

We track the latest developments in the run-up to the polls:

April 3 | Stage set for first phase of Assam assembly polls on April 4: The ruling Congress, the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance and the AIUDF are locked in a keen battle as the stage is set for the first phase of Assam assembly polls to be held amidst tight security on Monday for deciding the fate of 539 candidates in 65 of the 126 constituencies. (READ MORE)


April 3 | Will win 50 of 65 first phase seats, says Assam BJP: As campaigning for the first phase of Assam polls came to a close Saturday, BJP and its allies claimed they would win 50 of the 65 seats that go to polls on Monday. “I have attended at least 200 meetings in the 65 constituencies that are going to polls on Monday, and the trend is clear that the BJP and allies will win anywhere between 45 to 50 of these seats,” said BJP’s campaign committee head Himanta Biswa Sarma. (READ MORE)

April 2 | Opinion poll shows neck-to-neck battle between BJP, Congress in Assam: An opinion poll conducted by CVoter-India TV in Assam shows BJP and Congress neck-to-neck in the their battle for votes. A fair share of the votes are expected to be won by the Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) as well. The poll shows the BJP as the single-largest party with 55 seats, but still nine short of the half-way mark in the 126-member state Assembly. (READ MORE)

April 1 | Congress finds itself tied down in Assam’s tea belt: Paban Singh Ghatowar, five times the Lok Sabha member from Dibrugarh, finds himself in a role he would not have considered ideal for him. Also a former Pradesh Congress president and four times a Union minister, he should ideally have been campaigning for all 30 assembly seats in Assam tea belt, spread over seven districts, to ensure that votes of the plantation labour force did not go to the BJP. (READ MORE)

March 31 | Unhappy with Modi govt as it took anti-Assam stand: AASU- All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the student movement in the 80s that gave birth to AGP, is unhappy with the BJP but is more worried about the emergence of AIUDF under Badruddin Ajmal, the face of Bengali Muslims, who has been gaining ground election after election. (READ MORE)

March 30 | Congress conspiring to divide India, says Smriti Irani in Assam election rally: Accusing Congress of sidelining the sacrifices of Army soldiers, Union Minister Smriti Irani today said the party is plotting plans to “divide India” to suit its political interest. “Congress in its political interest has set aside the sacrifices of Indian youth and soldiers to stand with those on the other side,” Irani said during an election campaign rally in Badarpur. (READ MORE)

March 30 | Modi insulting Assam, BJP-led alliance communal, divisive: Sonia Gandhi- The Congress President also took potshots at the Prime Minister for his remarks linking his humble origin as a tea seller with Assam tea and said “those working in the tea gardens as well as tribals are asking when will the good days (achche din) come.” ‘Achche din’ was Modi’s poll slogan in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. (READ MORE)

State Elections 2016: The Schedule

March 30 | NDA govt will stop infiltration from Bangladesh into Assam: Rajnath- “Intruders have been continuously entering India since the day Bangladesh was created. Bangladeshi intruders are coming to India through the Indo-Bangladesh border. What is the reason, why didn’t you (Congress) stop them? Why didn’t you completely seal the Indo-Bangladesh border?” he asked at an election rally here. (READ MORE)

March 30 | Assam: In CM Tarun Gogoi’s model village, toilets a luxury- Four years ago, when three-time Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi chose Jonaki Mandal as a model village in his constituency of Titabor, he promised that providing basic amenities would be the first priority. As he seeks votes for a fourth term, most people of Jonaki Mandal continue to go to the fields to relieve themselves, or use kutcha latrines. (READ MORE)

March 29 | Assam will be run from Nagpur if BJP comes to power, says Rahul Gandhi: Asking voters in Assam to reject BJP in the Assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said if it came to power, the state will be run from the RSS headquarters in Nagpur or the PMO. He also warned the people that BJP will only stoke violence in the state and end the atmosphere of peace ushered in by Congress. (READ MORE)

March 29 | Assam CM Gogoi alleges BJP used moneybags in attempt to topple his govt: “BJP spent lots of money. They wasted hundreds of crores before the Bihar elections to topple the government in Assam. They tried it by taking Himanta (Biswa Sarma) and other MLAs, but they could not do it,” Gogoi told a press conference here targeting the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had launched a blistering attack on the Congress leader during the recent poll rallies in Assam. (READ MORE)

March 28 | Threatened Species: Kaziranga’s rhinoceros mounts election plank against poachers- “It is good that the Prime Minister has made rhino poaching an election issue,” Bolu said. Last weekend, addressing a rally at Bokakhat near here, PM Narendra Modi had told voters, “While poachers use guns to kill rhinos in Kaziranga, all you need to do is to press the right button to eliminate those responsible for unabated rhino poaching.” Rival parties frequently hold the Congress government responsible for the poaching. (READ MORE)

March 28 | Assam’s Satras: Heritage under threat of encroachment turns identity plank in polls- The problem is not taking charge but the way the demography of Kobaikota village, about 125 km from Guwahati, has changed in the past three decades. Over 100 Assamese Hindu families who had lived there for generations have left for other places for fear of an “ever increasing” number of Muslims. (READ MORE)

March 27 | PM Modi says strong wind of change will blow away Congress, appeals for decisive mandate in Assam: A strong wind blowing across Assam is all set to uproot the ruling Congress in the forthcoming assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday and appealed to people for a decisive mandate in favour of the BJP. He was addressing a public rally at Rangapara, located on the north bank of the Branhmaputra river, in Assam’s Sonitpur district. (READ MORE)

March 27 | Claiming ‘chaiwallah’ ties in tea state, Modi calls Assam ‘diseased’, Gogoi ‘almost 90’: Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his campaign for the high-stakes Assam election battle on Saturday, addressing five rallies where he called Assam a “diseased state” and said he could feel “strong winds of change” blowing in the state. He also claimed a deep association with the tea-producing state for having been a chaiwallah once. (READ MORE)

March 27 | Narendra Modi in Assam: Mask, tribal jacket, wooden rhinoceros among many gifts PM received- Prime minister Narendra Modi was given numerous gifts during the five rallies that he attended during the first day of his whirlwind two-day election campaign tour of Assam. While only his security team would be able to give the exact count of how many phulam gamocha – handwoven towels with red flowers on both ends – he got, it was a wooden replica of an one-horned rhinoceros that touched his heart the most. (READ MORE)

MARCH 27 | Assamese or ‘illegal migrant’? What ‘identity’ of people means to different parties ahead of polls: This year, with the BJP seen to be a major player in Assam, this is an election fought on ‘identity’. Who is an Assamese? Who is an illegal immigrant? These are questions that have always roiled Assam, a state that has seen successive streams of migrants — from the times of the British, who got workers from the Chotanagpur plateau and adjoining areas to work as tea plantation workers; followed by a massive flow of what C S Mullan, a British Superintendent of the 1931 Census, had described as “land-hungry Bengali immigrants, mostly Muslims” from erstwhile East Bengal; to the present, when impoverished Bangladeshi migrants sneak past a porous border in the hope of a better life. (READ MORE)

March 26 | When I was a tea-seller, it was Assam tea I sold which refreshed people, says Modi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address five public meetings in Assam on Saturday and two others on Sunday. “Modi will address rallies at Tinsukia, Majuli, Bihpuria, Bokakhat and Jorhat,” BJP said in a release. The prime minister is also scheduled to address rallies at Rangapara and Karimganj on March 27, the release added. BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal is contesting from Majuli assembly constituency. (READ MORE)

March 26 | I am real Hindu, they are fake, says Assam CM Tarun Gogoi: Veteran Congressman and three-time Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has claimed that he was a “real” Hindu and that those in the BJP were “fake” and were only contractors out to protect Hinduism. “I am real Hindu. They (BJP) are all fake Hindus who are self-proclaimed contractors of saving Hinduism,” Gogoi said while releasing the Congress party’s manifesto for the Assam assembly elections on Thursday. (READ MORE)

March 25 | Assam polls: Amit Shah promises to put a seal on illegal infiltration and corruption: Addressing election campaign meetings at these two places, BJP President Amit Shah promised that BJP would take Assam on the road of progress if voted to power by ensuring a corruption-free government and stopping illegal infiltration from Bangladesh. (READ MORE)

March 25 | BJP’s Assam Vision Document promises crackdown on infiltration: Making the issue of illegal immigrants in Assam as a major poll plank, BJP on Friday promised to ensure sealing of Indo-Bangladesh border in its ‘vision document’ unveiled here as it accused Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of encouraging infiltration and destroying demography. (READ MORE)

March 24 | Assam polls: Eyeing victory, Congress manifesto promises jobs and special packages- One member of each family in Assam will be provided jobs if Congress returns to power in the state, the party said in its poll manifesto on Thursday. Releasing the manifesto, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said,”If I come to power again, I will ensure job to one member of each family. Our target is to give 10 lakh jobs in both government and private sectors in the next five years.” (READ MORE)

March 24 | From militancy to candidacy, changing roles in Assam: Ten years ago, when about a dozen former militants belonging to the now defunct Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) contested the Assam assembly elections as nominees of the Bodo People’s Front (BPF), it became a major talking point. Not any more. Today, even national political parties such as the Congress and BJP have taken in former militants, and nominated some of them in the current assembly elections. (READ MORE)

March 23 | In Assam, BJP beats Congress with tickets to imports: With the submission of nomination papers for the Assam polls ending Tuesday, the BJP finished ahead of the Congress on at least one count — it has fielded a higher number of imports from other parties. The Congress, contesting 122 of the 126 seats, has five candidates who joined it recently after quitting other parties. The BJP list of 86 has as many as 14 such candidates, the most prominent being its campaign committee chief Himanta Biswa Sarma who, till September 2015, was in the Congress. (READ MORE)

March 22 | Why Assam polls will centre around ‘identity’ issue: The election fever is fast picking up in Assam, a state which goes to polls on April 4 and 11 for its 126-member assembly. And, even as the last date for filing nomination papers ended on Tuesday, the central issue – “identity” of the Assamese – is becoming more and more focused. (READ MORE)

March 22 | Assam: Ahead of polls, Congress wins both Rajya Sabha seats in cross-voting- Having won both Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, the Congress Monday called it a trailer ahead of the Assembly polls on April 4 and 11. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) vice-president Ripun Bora and former Union minister Ranee Narah were declared elected, as opposition AIUDF, AGP, BJP and BPF abstained from polling. Mahabir Prasad Jain, a businessman who was sponsored by 10 BPF MLAs as an Independent candidate, failed to open his account. (READ MORE)

March 22 | Congress list has former AGP, AASU, ULFA members: The Congress denied tickets Monday to several veteran Assam MLAs including the sitting legislators of Guwahati East and West, and named former AASU president Sankar Prasad Roy in its second list of 57 candidates. Roy, who had joined the BJP last year, joined the Congress earlier this month after being denied a ticket. (READ MORE)

March 21 | Congress releases list of 57 candidates for phase II polls: The Congress on Monday released its list of candidates for the second phase of the upcoming Assam elections. The list names 57 candidates to fight in the polls scheduled on April 11. The list was released by Madhusudan Mistry, General Secretary of AICC. (Read complete list here)

March 21 | That BJP has taken us as key partner proves our importance: AGP president- In the outgoing assembly we are the bigger party; we have 10 MLAs against five of the BJP. Some leaders may have left, but that does not mean the AGP is finished. That the BJP has taken us as a major partner is in itself proof of our importance, said Bora. (READ MORE)

March 20 | Assam: 586 candidates in fray for first phase of poll- The nominations of 586 candidates have been found valid for the sixty five constituencies going to the poll in the first phase of Assembly elections on April 4. A total of 599 candidates had filed nominations for the first phase. “Out of this, 13 were rejected,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer of Assam Gaurav Bothra told a press conference. (READ MORE)

March 20 | I am only playing secular politics, not the Hindu card, says CM Gogoi: Assam CM says he is confident of winning a fourth term, rules out any tie-up with AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal, talks of the “vast difference” between Narendra Modi and “broad-minded” Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and says dubbing people anti-national “will only alienate them further”. (READ FULL INTERVIEW)

March 18 | Ajmal has JD(U), RJD in ‘grand alliance’, invites Congress too: Badruddin Ajmal, leader of Assam’s principal opposition party AIUDF, has tied up with the RJD and the JD(U), with the three announcing a grand alliance of “secular parties” Thursday and inviting the Congress to join them in the fight against the BJP in the assembly elections. “We wanted a grand alliance in Assam of all secular parties on the lines of the recent Bihar polls to fight jointly against the BJP and its communal politics,” said Ajmal, an MP. (READ MORE)

March 18 | No party can form govt in Assam without taking AIUDF into account: Badruddin Ajmal- The All India United Democratic Front is a party duly registered with the Election Commission of India. It believes that this nation succeeds when everyone gets fair opportunities, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules: Badruddin Ajmal. (READ MORE)

March 18 | Assam’s ‘secret killings’: Gogoi plays 15-yr-old hand again: In the evening of August 11, 1998, two motorcycle-borne assailants shot dead a man at the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) bus station at Chowkidingee in Dibrugarh. The victim, an ASTC yard master, turned out to be Dimbeswar Rajkonwar, elder brother of ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.(READ MORE)

March 16 | Ballotin: Raids on Assam minister’s home, CM Gogoi attacks Centre- Teams of the election expenditure observer and income tax department conducted overnight raids on Assam minister Rockybul Hussain’s home and vehicle, leading to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi alleging that the action was “politically motivated” and aimed at “defaming” the leader and the Congress. (READ MORE)

March 16 | Congress takes Kanhaiya and Rohith for ‘achche din’ to Assam: Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU and the late Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad University, the faces of a controversy and a tragedy far removed from the politics of Assam, have come up in a series of Congress hoardings. Pictures of the two students are part of a collage with the question: “Is this the achche din PM Modi was talking about?” The hoardings came up Tuesday, across Guwahati and some other major towns. “Yes, we want to take up these issues to the people of Assam as they get ready to vote for the state assembly. (READ MORE)

March 16 | We continue with objective but have also taken others on board: Sarbananda Sonowal: In an interview to The Indian Express, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, describes his ambitions and his challenges. (Read the full interview)

March 15 | First list of Congress candidates for Assam polls announced: The first list of 65 Congress candidates, who will contest the forthcoming 126-member Assam Assembly polls scheduled to be held on April 4 and 11. (Click for the entire list)

March 15 | Both BJP, Congress are communal, says AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal: All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal has said both Congress and BJP are communal parties. “Both Congress and BJP are similar as far as their communal character is concerned. Both parties have been playing communal politics to keep the minorities under a state of fear and insecurity,” Ajmal told The Indian Express. (READ MORE)

March 14 | Don’t make ‘secret killings’ a poll issue, says ULFA: Even as the Congress party has brought back its poll-time favourite issue of alleged “secret killings” to campaign against the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and BJP, the pro-talk ULFA faction has asked all political parties not to make it an election issue. “We appeal to all sides not to make secret killings an election issue. If they had some sincerity, they would have definitely identified those involved in the secret killings,” ULFA founder general secretary Anup Chetia, who has only recently returned from Bangladesh and was released from jail in December 2015, said. (READ MORE)

MARCH 14 | When the advantage for BJP is also a disadvantage: With two successful alliances in the bag – one with the AGP (Asom Ganga Parishad) and the other with the BPF (Bodoland Peoples’ Front) – the prospects of the BJP ought to be very bright in the Assam’s assembly elections. However, in reality, the party is still unsure of the state which it had thought would be a sure win for them. The anti-incumbency of the 15-year-old Congress government, the wave for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw the party exude great confidence a few months ago. (READ MORE)

March 14 | Rebellion keeps BJP, AGP busy ahead of Assam polls: The BJP and AGP, which forged an electoral alliance in Assam more than a week ago, are busy trying to contain rebellion within their ranks as disgruntled leaders, who are opposed to the tie-up, have named candidates against the official party nominees in several districts. A group of rebel BJP leaders has formed an outfit called Trinamool BJP and named candidates for the 24 assembly seats which the BJP has allotted to the AGP. (READ MORE)

READ | BJP in Assam polls: When the advantage is also a disadvantage

March 13 | BJP, AGP struggle to contain rebellion against alliance: Ten days after the BJP and AGP forged an alliance in order to consolidate the anti-Congress votes and defeat the ruling party in the April assembly elections, the two parties are now more busy fighting their respective internal battles after disgruntled leaders in several districts floating new parties and naming candidates against their own parties in different constituencies. (READ MORE)

March 12 | BJP-AGP alliance a ‘marriage of convenience, says CM Gogoi: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday claimed that the BJP-Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) alliance was a “marriage of convenience” just to grab power in the state. The Chief Minister said in a statement that the BJP-AGP leaders completely ignored the wishes of the rank and file of party workers while forging the alliance and the disillusionment was there for everyone to see. (READ MORE)

March 11 | Anti- incumbency against the Congress govt: “There is a strong anti-incumbency building up against Gogoi and his Congress government. Look where their misrule has led Assam to. Whiles life and property of the common man is not secure, the Congress government cannot even ensure safety of High School finals answer scripts,” Bora said. “The people are fed up with the Congress and desperately want a change,” said Atul Bora, President of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Guwahati. (READ MORE)

Express Opinion

READ | Assam elections 2016: As dissension bogs down BJP, Congress gains in strength

March 11 | AGP releases first candidate list: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the BJP’s partner in Assam, on Thursday released its first list of candidates for 25 constituencies, including two additional seats — Biswanath and Kalaigaon — that it was not allotted as part of the alliance. The regional party is also expected to announce a second list of candidates in constituencies where the party will have a “friendly fight” with the BJP. (READ MORE)

March 10 | BJP announces its list of candidates: The BJP on Wednesday released its list of 88 candidates for Assam, including nine Muslims. State party president and union minister Sarbananda Sonowal will contest from Majuli, a reserved seat for ST. Former Congress strongman Himanta Biswa Sarma and five of his loyalists — all ex-Congress MLAs — have also got tickets. Sarma has been fielded from Jalukbari. While the BJP has already given away 24 seats to the AGP, it has left only 13 seats for its other ally, the Bodo People’s Front (BPF). (READ MORE)

March 9 |  Congress finds Bodo ally: The Congress has found an ally in the United People’s Party (UPP), a Bodo group headed by former Rajya Sabha member Urkhaw Gwra Brahma, to take on the BJP’s ally Bodo People’s Front (BPF), with the ruling party agreeing to leave four seats in the Bodoland Territorial Council area for it. Urkhaw Gwra Brahma was an independent candidate for Kokrajhar in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, in which the BJP had backed him. (READ MORE)

March 9 | Upset over BJP-AGP alliance, 2 ministers from the saffron party join Congress: With dissent coming to the fore in the BJP ever since the saffron party announced its alliance with regional parties Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the Congress, weighed down by anti-incumbency feelings and in a moribund state of late, has been on a high. Several leaders from the opposition alliance joined the party, giving it a boost in the run-up to next month’s Assembly elections. The two senior BJP leaders who joined the Congress are Sankar Prasad Ray, the previous president of All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU), and noted lawyer Sabda Ram Rabha, both ‘victims’ of the saffron party’s new alliances. (READ MORE) 

March 7 | BJP-AGP tie-up sparks protest: The alliance between the BJP and AGP has set off protests in various districts, with some local leaders on either side threatening to float new groups to contest the elections. (Read more)

March 5 | CVoter predicts no majority for any party: According to the opinion polls conducted by CVoter, a change of government is likely in Assam, where the incumbent Tarun Gogoi-led Congress party will bite dust. A fall in 4% vote-share for the Congress will lead to it losing 34 seats and thus any chance of forming a government. The half-way mark is 64. The BJP and its allies are likely to get 57 seats, falling short of majority. It has to be noted that the poll was taken before the BJP confirmed a tie-up with the AGP, a strong regional party. If AGP does well without splitting the anti-Congress vote, the BJP+ alliance can indeed form a government there. (Read more)

March 4 | BJP-AGP workers protest tie-up: The BJP-AGP alliance ahead of the Assembly polls in Assam was met with protests of both the parties across several districts of the state. While AGP workers in some constituencies opposed conceding their seats to the BJP, similar protests were also raised by BJP workers in some other districts. (Read more)


March 3 | BJP announce tie-up with AGP: The BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), last week, formally announced tie-up for the ensuing polls. Union minister and state BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal saying it was done “to ensure a crushing defeat on the Congress”. “We have agreed in principle with the AGP to go together in the Assam assembly elections and ensure a crushing defeat on the Congress and its ally AIUDF. We also agreed to work together to ensure security to the greater indigenous Assamese community and will come out with a common agenda in the next few days,” Sonowal told The Indian Express. (Read more)