#AssamPolls: Has BJP moved away from Modi-only campaign formula?

Has the Bharatiya Janata Party moved away from Modi-takes-the-center-stage style of campaigning? Anyone in Guwahati who is listening to the local FM stations must have noticed the massive airtime the party has ‘purchased’ to let the voters know about its CM candidate – Sarbananda Sonowal.

“Xokolute Ananda, Sarbananda” is a peppy number by singer Zubeen Garg and the song portrays the BJP in the state as a harbinger of happiness and prosperity for its people. The song begins on a celebratory note and registers the “Xokolute Ananda, Sarbananda” slogan four times before the “Lotus blossoms” thereby making it sure the listener doesn’t miss the main areas of thrust. The four-minute video focuses on one man — the BJP chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal.

Unlike the campaign for other elections, wherein the BJP put forth PM Narendra Modi as the sole face of the party, in Assam the party gave center-stage to its CM candidate. Political experts say the defeat in Bihar was a blow to the party and the party wanted to harp of the comparatively cleaner image of Sarbananda Sonowal to call for a change in Assam.

Interestingly during the Bihar elections, voices within the BJP wanted a stronger projection of a local leader and the loss may have led to a slight change in plan for the party. Although the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah are visible in the campaign video, the song’s lyrics – being played on radio – hails the CM candidate as the messenger of change.

The song also does not fail to play up on the immigrant situation, warning the Assamese voters at one stage that if they vote for the Congress, they will lose their rights within the state. The influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants has been a major election plank in Assam.

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Come out and vote for a healthy democracy: Barsha Rani Bishaya

On the penultimate day of campaigning for the second phase of polls in Assam, the election commission is leaving no stone unturned to raise voter awareness. In an exclusive chat with HeyNortheast, popular actress and brand ambassador for the Kamrup Metro district’s Systematic Voter Education and Electronic Participation (SVEEP) cell, Barsha Rani Bishaya said that the election commission is working hard for voter awareness and are using innovative tools to reach maximum voters.

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“It’s we who decide who runs the government. So it is very important that we go out and vote because without people’s participation the election process won’t be a healthy one. Every vote counts and this time we are expecting more voter awareness – we are working towards it – and expect a good turnout on April 11,” said Barsha Rani Bishaya. Besides, the actress told that she is expecting the women voters to come out and vote with their male counterparts and make the polls a success.

According to the election commission authorities, the awareness programmes are yielding benefits and the 82.2% polling recorded in the first phase of polling was a testimony to that. Officials from the Kamrup Metro district said that the voting percentage in the district should touch around 90% this time reaching an all-time high.

“We are reaching out to the public in newer and more innovative ways and this has been a huge factor in the expected rise in polling percentage,” said an official.

Speaking about joining the campaign, Barsha said that this is an honour that the election commission has approached her to be the face of the campaign for a healthy democracy. “I am honoured that I could help in this. I feel being a public figure, my association with the campaign will motivate people to come out and vote. I would request each one of you to vote and especially the women voters – you shouldn’t sit back at home but be an important decision maker in the democracy,” she said.

#AssamPolls: 78% voting recorded in the first phase

Voting for the first phase of the Assam Assembly polls ended peacefully with more than 78% votes registered till 5 pm on Monday. The election commission has suggested that the voting count will increase to 80% as reports from certain interior areas are yet to be compiled in the main database.

The first phase of polls for the Assam Assembly, covering 65 constituencies, witnessed long queues as voting began at 7 in the morning. Enthusiastic voters – men, women, youths, first-time voters, senior citizens and people from all sections of the society – stood in long queues for hours to exercise their franchise.

Reports of malfunctioning in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) came from 7 polling stations where the device was replaced immediately without any interruption in the voting process.

Chabua LAC had reported the highest turnout of 85.19 per cent at 5 pm, while the lowest turnout of 67 per cent was reported from Sarupathar LAC.

Here’s a glimpse of the first phase of the voting.

The fate of many prominent candidates, including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal, AGP chief Atul Bora, Speaker Pranab Gogoi, ministers Gautam Roy, Ajanta Neog, Pranati Phukan, among others, were sealed in the EVMs.

The 65 LACs which went to the polls today were spread across Upper Assam, North Bank, Hill districts and Barak Valley.

A total of 95,11,732 electors were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase. Among them, 49,16,015 were male voters and 45,95,712 were female voters. A total of 539 candidates were in the fray for the 65 LACs. There were 43 female candidates.

There were 187 candidates from recognised political parties, including 52 from BJP, 65 from Congress, nine from NCP, 10 from CPI, 10 from CPM, 11 from AGP, 27 from AIUDF and three from BPF.