BJP tonight announced the names of 88 candidates for the Assam assembly polls including those of its chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal, former Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma and Lok Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasha, who has been fielded against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
The party’s Central Election Committee (CEC) cleared the names for all but two of the 90 seats it will contest in the polls for the 126-member state assembly.
The party also cleared 52 candidates for the election to 294-member West Bengal assembly.
Party chief Amit Shah chaired the meeting which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides other CEC members.
“Our list of candidates has the representation of greater Assamese society. It is a reflection of greater Assam,” Union Minister and party’s Parliamentary Board secretary J P Nadda told a press conference.
Several Congress MLAs, who joined the saffron party along with Sarma, have been given tickets as well.
Seeking to corner Gogoi in his constituency, BJP has pitted its MP Tasha from the Congress leader’s constituency of Titabor.
Sonowal will contest from Majuli, a reserved seat for ST, while Sarma has been fielded from Jalukbari.
The party’s decision to contest 90 seats means that some of its candidates will have a friendly fight with allies like AGP or Bodoland People’s Front.
“We had announced Mission 84 for Assam. So we had to fight a few seats more than this. Some of the fight will be strategic,” a leader said, adding that some smaller allies will field their candidates on the BJP’s symbol.
Terming infiltration from Bangladesh as a major poll issue, BJP has forged a rainbow coalition with several regional outfits in its bid to wrest power from the Congress which has been ruling the state for the last 15 years.
Assam goes to the polls in two phases on April 4 and 11.
The Election Commission today tweaked the date of filing nominations for the second phase of assembly elections in Assam as it was clashing with the biennial polls to two Rajya Sabha seats in the state.
Congress in Assam earlier today urged the Commission to reschedule the March 21 Rajya Sabha elections citing the issue. The nomination process of assembly polls in the state begins next month.
“On the due consideration of the matter, the Commission has decided to slightly modify some of the dates for the second phase of the general election to the Legislative Assembly of Assam whereby there is a change in the date of notification, last date of making nomination and date of scrutiny,” the EC said in a statement.
Now, instead of March 14, the notification for phase 2 will be issued on March 15 and the last date of filing nominations would be March 22 instead of March 21. The last date of withdrawing nominations will remain the same—March 26 and the poll will be held as announced on April 11.
Earlier in the day, in a memorandum submitted to the Commission, the state unit of Congress said March 21 is the last date of withdrawing nominations for the first phase of assembly elections on April 4 and the last date of filing of nominations for the second phase of polls on April 11.
Biennial elections to 13 Rajya Sabha seats in six states, including Assam and Kerala, will be held on March 21. 12 of the 13 seats are falling vacant in April.
In Assam, both the seats falling vacant belong to Congress.
Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
The party said since MLAs would be busy with electioneering and nomination process, they would find it difficult to reach Dispur to cast their votes for the Rajya Sabha polls.