Stage set for first phase Assam assembly polls

Guwahati, April 3 (PTI): The statge is set for the first phase of elections in Assam to held on Monday. The BJP, in particular, put in an aggressive campaign with almost all senior national leaders including former deputy prime minister L K Advani, party president Nitin Gadkari, leaders of Opposition in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, former party chief M Venkaiah Naidu, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda coming to the state. The AGP’s campaign was muted with party president Chandramohan Patowary and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta pitching in for candidates in the party strongholds. The BJP brought in the glamour quotient with Bollywood stars Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha and television star Smriti Irani campaigning in different constituencies while the Congress had only Raj Babbar to canvass for the party. The Left Parties, with CPI and CPI-M contesting 17 seats each in the polls, had senior Politburo members Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat campaigning for the candidates.
The issues on which the different parties campaigned were varied with Congress leaders highlighting the development of the state, various schemes introduced during the last 10 years, initiating peace talks with ULFA and utter chaos and economic mismanagement during AGP rule. BJP and AGP harped mostly on corruption issues, particularly on the multi-crore funds diversion scam in North Cachar Hills, and alleged failure of the Congress to solve the issues of foreigners’ influx, flood, erosion and neglect of the weaker sections, particularly the tea tribe community.  Political parties, however, did not make insurgency a major issue in the just-concluded poll campaigning.