Assam Assembly Elections 2021: Candidates and constituencies to watch out for during first phase of polls

In Assam, the stage is set for the polling in 47 constituencies in 12 districts on March 27 in the state where the BJP government is seeking to regain power in the 126-member legislature. Prominent leaders including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Atul Bora, Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora and several ministers are in the fray.

Sonowal is seeking re-election from Majuli, a seat he wrested from Congress' Rajib Lochan Pegu in the 2016 Assembly elections. Pegu, who had won the seat for three straight terms since 2001, has again been fielded by Congress.

Assam Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami is in the poll battle from Jorhat, ministers Ranjit Dutta from Behali, Naba Kumar Doley from Jonai and Sanjoy Kishan from Tinsukia.

The fate of ministers from NDA ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)- Atul Bora from Bokakhat and Keshab Mahanta from Kaliabor- will also be sealed during the first phase of polling on March 27.

Ripun Bora is trying his luck from Gohpur seat, where his wife Monika Bora lost in the 2016 polls. The 60-year-old leader will face sitting BJP MLA Utpal Bora.

Among other high-profile candidates in the first phase include Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia who is contesting from Nazira, AICC Secretary Bhupen Borah from Bihpuria and former ministers Bharat Narah from Naoboicha, Pranatee Phukan from Naharkatiya and Rakibul Hussain from Samaguri.

Congress has fielded Jyoti Baruah in party stronghold Titabar, a seat held by former chief minister Tarun Gogoi till his death on November 23, 2020. BJP candidate Hemanta Kalita will contest against Baruah.

Lurinjyoti Gogoi, president of newly-floated regional political party Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) will contest from two seats-- Duliajan and Naharkatia which will go to polls in the first phase.

The fate of jailed anti-CAA activist and Raijor Dal chief Akhil Gogoi from Sibsagar will be decided in the first phase. Gogoi, a peasant leader, is in jail since December 2019 in connection with a National Investigation Agency (NIA) case for his role in the anti-CAA protests in Assam. He was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

As Raijor Dal had reportedly failed to register with the election commission as a political party, all the Raijor Dal candidates will contest the polls as independent candidates.

Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal are contesting the polls in an alliance.

The state, in its three-phased polls, is witnessing a direct fight between the BJP-Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Congress-AIUDF alliance. The BJP is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governance, Central public welfare schemes and on the image of Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal.

While Congress is heading into the battle against the ruling party bringing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to the fore.

A total of 264 candidates are in the fray from 47 seats-- 42 seats from 11 districts of Upper Assam and northern Assam region and five seats from central Assam's Nagaon district going to polls in the first phase.

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