Assam: Alliances, independents set to make 3rd phase the most closely contested - Hindustan Times
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Assam: Alliances, independents set to make 3rd phase the most closely contested

Apr 06, 2021 06:02 AM IST

The Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), with which the former has allied with, won 50% or more of the ACs in this phase in the 2009 (LS) and 2011 elections.

The third and final phase of polling in Assam – 40 of the state’s 126 assembly constituencies (ACs) vote on Tuesday – promises to be the most interesting and closely contested one. The ACs are all located in the Lower Assam region, which comprises 10 of the state’s 28 districts. While small parts of Baksa, Nalbari, and Kamrup districts have already voted in the second phase, the remaining seven districts – Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Barpeta, and Kamrup Metropolitan – will vote in this phase.

A polling official casts a postal vote for the Assam Assembly elections at a polling station, in Guwahati on Monday. (ANI Photo)
A polling official casts a postal vote for the Assam Assembly elections at a polling station, in Guwahati on Monday. (ANI Photo)

The Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), with which the former has allied with, won 50% or more of the ACs in this phase in the 2009 (LS) and 2011 elections. Even in the 2014 LS polls, their combined AC-level seat share was higher than that of the BJP and the parties that the latter would go on to partner with in ensuing elections: the AGP and the BPF, which, in 2014, was the Congress’s ally. The decline in the Congress and AIUDF’s combined seat share in the 2014 election was because independents won nine ACs. When the BJP alliance did overtake the two parties in the 2016 state elections, it was mainly because independents didn’t win any seats. In the 2019 LS polls, the BJP alliance again fell behind the Congress and the AIUDF.

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Interestingly, independents may well call the shots in these 40 ACs, ensuring a tight contests. The median victory margin in these 40 constituencies was lower than that in those that voted in first two phases, in three of the five elections since 2009: 2011, 2016, and 2019.

Another factor that makes the contest more unpredictable is the nature of alliances. The BPF, a significant player in this phase, has gone back to the Congress alliance. The BJP has allied with United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) to make up for the loss of BPF.

The demographics of the region further underline the importance of alliances. The region perhaps offers the least room for winning polls by focusing on a single social, religious, or linguistic group. SCs, STs, and OBCs account for 18.3%, 14.5%, and 20.3% of the population here, compared to 15.8%, 13.6%, and 32.4% in the state. Hindus and Muslims also have a more equal share in the population in the region – 50.3% and 46.5% respectively – than in the state.

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