Guwahati: Amidst the ongoing assembly elections in Assam, the opposition parties are leveraging on anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) sentiments citing it as a major issue in the second and third phase of polling.
Polling for the first phase of the Assam elections was held on Saturday and saw a voter turnout of 77 per cent.
Political parties have now shifted their focus for the second and third phases of polling
As far as issues in these two phases are concerned, it is CAA vs development.
Top BJP leaders refraining from mentioning CAA directly
However, top BJP leaders have been talking about development and are refraining from mentioning CAA directly during the poll campaigns. But, the party is not sparing a single stage to target the Congress-AIUDF coalition alleging the Congress party has made an alliance with infiltrators.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told ANI that CAA-NRC is not an issue and it will not impact the state elections.
On the other hand, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said the party will not allow implementing CAA if voted to power in Assam.
Speaking to ANI, BJP state president Ranjit Kumar Dass said, “CAA is not an issue in Assam. It has been approved by the Parliament. If we come to power, we will implement it.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader Khagen Kalita said CAA will cost BJP heavily in the second and third phases of polling in the state.
“CAA is going to cost them (BJP) heavily in the second and third phases of election as a lot of religious minorities are impacted by it. You will see in these two phases, voters will vote against BJP. Their process of selecting candidates in the upper Assam area has been impacted by CAA. They have changed seats of its MLA due to the fear of losing the seats,” Kalita told ANI.
There had been violent protests in Assam in December 2019 against CAA that claimed casualties in police firing.
Since the protest, two parties — Asom Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dol parties — were formed in Assam. Raijor Dol was floated by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti led by Akhil Gogoi, who has been in jail since December for his participation in Anti-CAA protests. It is reportedly backed by 70 ethnic groups which oppose the changes to the citizenship law.
In the second phase, 39 assembly seats will go for polling deciding the fate of 345 candidates. While 337 candidates will try their luck in 40 constituencies during the third phase of polling.
In the 2016 state elections, BJP had toppled the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government. Congress has stitched a coalition named “Mahajath” with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation, the Anchalik Gana Marcha (AGM) and the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) to oust the BJP government.
BJP, on the other hand, has allied with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL).
In phase-I, the polling was conducted for the 47 seats in Upper Assam which is considered a stronghold of BJP-led NDA.
But the second and third phases are going to be a tough fight for NDA as these regions are considered to be the stronghold of the Congress and Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF.
In phase-II, the Congress-AIUDF alliance is eyeing the 39 seats falling in the Southern Assam. In 2016, the division of votes between Congress and AIUDF had encashed the victory for BJP and its allies in at least 20 seats of the 40 that are going for polls on April 6 in phase-III.