Guwahati: As the first phase of polling for Assam legislative assembly elections is approaching, the State electoral department released the mascots Bohag & Bohagi for creating more awareness among the voters. The mascots, derived from the State’s largest spring festival Rongali Bihu, are expected to motivate the electorates to come forward for exercising their franchises. Assam chief electoral officer Nitin Khade recently introduced four icons comprising para-cyclist Rakesh Banik, actor Kapil Bora, singer Aninidita Paul and admired cricketer Riyan Parag. He informed that in order to ensure the conduct of free, fair and safe polling, the district election officers are presently holding workshops and awareness camps to educate the voters about the practice of ethical voting. Meanwhile, the notification for the second phase of polls covering 39 assembly constituencies was issued. The first phase will cover 47 constituencies and go to the polls on 27 March. The second phase polling will take place on 1 April and the third & final phase (covering 40 seats) has been fixed for 6 April. The counting of votes is scheduled for 2 May. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced its first list of 70 candidates where State chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal figured as earlier from Majuli seat. State finance, health, education, etc minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will seek re-election from Jalukbari, where BJP State president Ranjeet Kr Dass will contest for Patacharkuchi assembly constituency. The outgoing assembly speaker Hitendranath Goswami will seek re-election from Jorhat. Similarly, outgoing ministers namely Bhabesh Kalita (from Rangia), Parimal Suklabaidya (Dholai), Pijush Hazarika (Jagiroad), Ranjit Dutta (Behali), Naba Kumar Doley (Dhakuakhana) etc will go for re-election from respective constituencies. BJP legislators Angoorlata Deka (Batadrava), Mrinal Saikia (Khumtai), Padma Hazarika (Sootea), Prasanta Phukan (Dibrugarh), Bhaskar Sharma (Margherita), Numal Momin (Bokajan), Bidyasing Engleng (Diphu), Ashok Singhal (Dhekiajuli), Bolin Chetia (Sadiya), Ranoj Pegu from Dhemaji, etc got party tickets including Jayanta Malla Barua (Nalbari), Bhuban Pegu (Jonai), Ajanta Neog (Golaghat), Gautam Roy (Katighora) etc emerged lucky. BJP’s primary alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is scheduled to contest for 26 seats, whereas another ally United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) will fight for 8 seats. Similarly, Gana Suraksha Party is going to field its candidate in one seat out of 126 assembly constituencies of the State. The saffron list comprises four women and one Muslim candidate. AGP legislator and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was denied the party ticket from Berhampur constituency and he now revives AGP (Progressive) party for seeking re-election from the same seat. AGP president and State minister Atul Bora is fighting again for Bokakhat and another minister Keshab Mahanta will contest from the Kaliabor constituency. As the ruling alliance is expecting an easy electoral victory, the main opposition party Indian National Congress remains upbeat with the entry of the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), which has left the ruling alliance to join hands with the Congress-led grand alliance. BPF leader Hagrama Mohilary announced the decision to join the Mohajoat comprising of Congress, AIUDF, CPI, CPM, CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha, etc. The Congress is vigorously campaigning with five guarantees to the electorate including the commitment to nullify the citizenship amendment act (CAA), which witnessed public demonstrations in the Brahmaputra valley. It also promises to create five lakh government jobs, hike of tea plantation workers’ daily wage to ₹ 365, offer free electricity up to 200 units for every household and sanctioning ₹ 2,000 monthly income for housewives. Amidst all, the newly formed Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP), led by former All Assam Students' Union (AASU) leader Lurinjyoti Gogoi, is expected to pose electoral challenges to both BJP and Congress led alliances. Another new party Raijor Dol, led by peasant activist Akhil Gogoi, who incidentally remains behind bars since December 2019 on sedition charges, is joining with the AJP to make a difference in the polls.
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