Roadmap in place for enforcing COVID protocols and conducting safe and peaceful counting, police say.
The Mitrajot and Mahajot alliances are showing confidence in the formation of the next government in Assam ahead of the counting of the results of the Assam Assembly elections on Sunday.
Mitrajot is the quadripartite alliance led by the BJP which hopes to retain power and Mahajot comprising 10 parties is led by the opposition Congress.
The exit polls gave the BJP and its regional allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), United People’s Liberal Party (UPPL) and Rabha Joutha Mancha an advantage.
“Our assessment is that our alliance will win 83 of the 126 seats, our party winning 70,” said BJP chairman Ranjeet Kumar Dass. He challenges the siege of Patacharkuchi in western Assam.
His congressional counterpart and member of Rajya Sabha, Ripun Bora, was equally confident. “The exit polls mean nothing. The people voted for a change and our Mahajot will win at least 75 seats, ”he said.
Among the main constituents of the Mahajot are the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Bodoland Popular Front (BPF), a separate ally of the BJP.
The elections were held in terms of development, welfare of the state tea garden community, for and against the citizenship law (amendment), waiving loans to women from microfinance institutions , giving jobs to the unemployed, protecting satras (Vaishnavite Monasteries) and rhinos.
Another major problem was the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) which left out 19.06 lakh of Assam’s 3.3 crore. Unhappy with the exclusion figure, the BJP promised to repeat the exercise while the Mahajot preferred to facilitate people deprived of citizenship.
According to political scientists, the 47 and 39 seats that went to the polls in the first phase on March 27 and April 1 respectively would be crucial for the BJP. The BJP and AGP won 59 out of a total of 86 seats in 2016 in these phases covering east, north, south and partly central Assam.
With the exception of Bengali-dominated southern Assam including the Barak Valley, the other regions are dominated by Assamese speakers, tribal groups, and tea plantation workers. Muslims dominate large swathes of southern and central Assam.
The tea plantation workers, which occupy 45 seats, would be a major factor in the first phase. Muslims, who constitute over 34% of the state’s population, are likely to call the shots in many sieges in the second and third phases.
In addition to the tea growing belt and Muslim majority seats, the focus this time would be on 12 seats straddling the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). BPF won all 12 seats in 2016 and proved in BTC polls in December 2020 that it was not child’s play and could secure fewer seats for Mitrajot.
The 2021 term saw a new regional front spawned by the anti-CAA movement. This front of Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal of jailed rights activist Akhil Gogoi should create some surprises.
Meanwhile, the Assam Police Director General said a roadmap has been prepared to meet the twin challenges of enforcing COVID protocols and ensuring safe and peaceful counting on Sunday. “The COVID compliant roadmap has been shared with all district police chiefs,” he said.
He called on leaders and members of political parties to adhere to the Election Commission of India’s guidelines on banning celebrations, victory marches and other post-results activities. “Saving society and people from this cruel COVID-19 surge should be our top priority,” he said.