Guwahati: After returning to power in Assam for the second straight term six months ago, the ruling BJP will face its first acid test when five Assembly seats in the State go to the bypolls on October 30.
In the March-April polls to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the BJP had secured 60 seats, similar to what it managed when it first came to power in Assam in 2016.
Political pundits are saying that the October 30 by-elections to five Assembly seats will be a litmus test for both the ruling party and the State government led by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The BJP has fielded candidates in three out of the five seats going to the bypolls, and all three are deserters of opposition parties — the Congress and the Muslim dominated All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
The BJP has fielded Phanidhar Talukdar in Bhabanipur, Rupjyoti Kurmi in Mariani and Sushanta Borgohain in Thowra, while its ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) has nominated Jiron Basumatary and Jolen Daimary in Gossaigaon and Tamulpur, respectively.
The by-elections were necessitated due to the Covid-related deaths of two sitting MLAs belonging to UPPL and Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), while two Congress (Kurmi and Borgohain) and one AIUDF legislator (Talukdar) joined the BJP after quitting their Assembly membership.
The main opposition Congress, which bagged 29 seats in the recent Assembly polls, has been trying hard to retain their seats — Thowra and Mariani — where the party won in the March-April Assembly polls.
While campaigning for the party candidates, Chief Minister Sarma has expressed confidence that the BJP and UPPL will win all the five seats.
Assam Assembly Deputy Speaker Numal Momin, also a BJP MLA, said on Tuesday October 19 that his party and the UPPL would win all the five seats to further increase their tally in the House.
“People now understand that the BJP is the only party that can turn Assam into the real growth path and do welfare for the people,” said physician-turned-politician Momin.
The AIUDF has fielded candidates in Bhabanipur and Gossaigaon, Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal is contesting in Thowra and Mariani while Hagrama Mahilary-led BPF is contesting in Gossaigaon.
The AIUDF and the BPF were partners of the Congress-led 10-party ‘Mahajot’ (grand alliance) in the March-April Assembly polls.
According to the Election Commission, a total of 31 candidates will contest in the by-polls to the five Assembly constituencies.
The poll panel on Tuesday said that in all, 7,96,456 electors, including 3,93,078 female voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the bypolls.