Assam Polls: Why PM Modi opted for northern, upper Assam for his first three visits

Ahead of the assembly polls in Assam, prime minister Narendra Modi had visited the state three times within a month. Notably, the prime minister opted for northern and upper Assam for his visits.

Within a month, PM Modi had visited the poll-bound state while the dates for the polls will likely to declared in the first week of March.

On February 22, PM Modi visited Silapathar in Dhemaji district from where he inaugurated multiple projects spread across Assam.

Earlier on January 23, Modi had visited Sivasagar and distributed land patta documents to 1.06 lakh landless indigenous people of the state. On February 7, the prime minister had visited Dhekiajuli in northern Assam’s Sonitpur district and laid foundation stone of two medical colleges in the state. On February 18, PM Modi had virtually launched the ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ project along with foundation stone laying ceremony of two bridges at Dhubri-Phulbari and Majuli.

Silapathar is a bordering town of Dhemaji district along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) population in Dhemaji district is almost 48 per cent.

On December 25, 2018, PM Modi had inaugurated the Bogibeel bridge which connects the south bank of the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Dibrugarh district with Silapathar in Dhemaji district, bordering Arunachal Pradesh.

Among the ST population, Mising community voters have now become a deciding factor in at least a few seats in the region.

Recently the lone Independent MLA of northern Assam region, Bhuban Pegu, who belongs to the Mising tribe, had joined BJP.

It is very significant that, BJP, who had set a ‘Mission – 100+’ target for the upcoming assembly polls in Assam, has chosen the upper and northern Assam region for all three rallies of PM Modi.

In last assembly polls in the state held in 2016, BJP won 60 seats and out of which the saffron party won 26 seats in Upper Assam and Northern Assam region while BJP’s ally party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) won 7 seats, opposition Congress won 7 seats and one each by Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and Independent.

BJP’s focus on Upper Assam

There are 42 assembly constituencies in the Upper Assam and Northern Assam region and BJP is now concentrating in these seats to retain power in the state.

In this election, BJP is facing tough challenges from Congress-AIUDF grand alliance and another alliance formed by two newly-floated regional political parties Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal.

All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) have backed AJP while farmers’ organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has backed Raijor Dal which is led by peasant leader Akhil Gogoi.

By taking up Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) as a core poll issue both Congress and AJP have started massive campaigns in Upper Assam and Northern Assam against BJP and trying to get mass support.

To defuse the opposition campaigns, BJP has taken up development, infrastructure as poll issues.

By aiming to win maximum seats in the Upper Assam and Northern Assam region, BJP is now concentrating to get maximum support from the indigenous, tribes, tea garden voters of these two important regions.

A top leader of Assam state BJP said that, the ruling party has now targeted to win at least 32-34 seats out of 42 seats in Upper Assam and Northern Assam.

“While many people of Upper Assam region are not supporting the alliance of Congress and AIUDF, we are trying to get support from those offended people. We hope that, in this election, BJP will be able to win 6-8 more seats in Upper Assam and two seats in the Northern Assam region,” the BJP leader said.

About Hemanta Kumar Nath

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Hemanta Kumar Nath is a Guwahati-based journalist. He had worked with India Blooms News Service (IBNS), Meghalaya Times, Global News Network among others.

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