By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, April 2: The 65 assembly seats which go to polls in the first phase on Monday hold the key, for both the ruling Congress and the BJP-led alliance.
These 65 seats form eight parliamentary constituencies.
The ruling Congress had swept 56 of these 65 seats in the 2011 elections, but there was a reversal of fortune in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which the Congress could retain only two LS seats – Silchar and Diphu.
The vote share of the BJP rose sharply in the Lok Sabha elections, in almost all the constituencies.
Congress insiders believe that the party’s fate in this elections would largely depend on its performance in the first phase seats, because this will show whether it has been able to retain the party’s traditiol hold in rural Assam, ethnic communities and tea belt citadels.
The insiders admit that the party is facing a strong anti-incumbency wave in several seats it had won in Assam in 2011 and the bigger challenge would be to make a dent in the support base of regiol outfits — the AGP and the pro-minority AIUDF of perfume-baron Badruddin Ajmal.
In seats like Duliajan, Mahmora, Lakhimpur etc, the Congress is facing dissidence in the wake of disgruntlement over ticket distribution.
The party has denied tickets to two sitting legislators – Amiya Gogoi and Sarat Saikia. Gogoi is contesting as an Independent, while Saikia has joined the BJP. In some seats, old-timers have given way to newcomers, though the tickets have remained in the same family.
The BJP may lack faces but is banking on the ‘Modi magic’ which had done the trick in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Independent candidates are also likely to make their presence felt. Their vote share in the last assembly elections was over 10 per cent. This time around, nearly half the candidates are Independents.