Assam, March 25: With West Bengal and Assam set for the first phase of assembly polls on Saturday, campaigning for this phase concludes on Thursday. The poll campaigning across states is in full swing with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looking to retain its hold in Assam and wrest power from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal.
In Bengal, the BJP aims to get a majority of over 200 seats while Mamata Banerjee, who leads the TMC, is also confident of coming to power in the state for the third time. The latter has termed it a “smiley election”. This comes even as several leaders of her party, including her close aide Suvendu Adhikari and his father Sisir, jumped boats and joined the opposition BJP in recent days.
“Thank God, the ‘Mir Jafars’ (traitors) have left (TMC). I am relieved. It has saved us (the party). They never used to allow me to come to Khejuri, Nandigram, or Kanthi whenever I wished to visit these places. As if this was their ‘zamindari’. Now, nobody can stop me from coming here,” the chief minister said after Sisir, who was a TMC MP, switched parties.
The BJP has fielded Suvendu against the chief minister Banerjee from the Nandigram assembly seat. The party is fighting the Bengal election on the theme of ‘ashol poriborton’ (real change). The two parties are engaged in a war of words as the poll dates draw closer. Both have leveled corruption allegations against each other.
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While the TMC poll manifesto contains promises ranging from strengthening the economy to creating jobs, from improving farmers’ welfare, health, and education indices to providing housing to all, the BJP’s ‘sankalp patra’ lays special focus on uplifting the status of women in the state. The party also promised one job per family, implementation of 7th pay commission for state government employees, PM-Kisan arrear of ₹18,000 for 75 lakh farmers, and the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat scheme in Bengal.
Meanwhile, in Assam, the BJP and Congress are at loggerheads. While Congress’ election campaign was led by Rahul Gandhi in the northeastern state, the BJP held multiple rallies with prominent faces including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and the party’s national president JP Nadda. In their manifestos, the BJP has promised to implement “corrected NRC” whereas the Congress party, if it comes to power, will not implement it in the state.
In Assam, voting will take place in three phases of assembly polls on March 27, April 1, and April 6 while West Bengal will go to polls in eight phases on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29, respectively. The results of the elections will be announced on May 2.