Assam in election mode, Congress frontrunner in poll preparedness

January 24th, 2009 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyGuwahati, Jan 24 (IANS) Political parties in Assam are already in poll mode with both the ruling Congress party and the opposition - the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine - charting out strategies to fight the upcoming general elections.”Economic development will be our main agenda during the polls besides other issues like agriculture, education and solving the unemployment problem,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

The Congress party, which in 2004 won nine of the 14 parliamentary seats in Assam, would be fighting the elections on its own, barring the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat where it would probably allow its ally the Bodoland People’s Party (BPF) to put up its candidate.

“We are fully prepared for the polls. We shall give tickets to candidates who have strong chances of winning,” the chief minister said.

The Congress has already started holding public rallies across the state, harping on schemes and programmes undertaken by the government.

“We are confident of bettering our last performance,” said Assam Congress president Bhubaneswar Kalita.

Compared to the Congress party, the opposition parties are still unable to work out seat sharing adjustments and alliances to fight the polls.

The AGP-BJP combine had held several rounds of meetings to work out a seat sharing pact although nothing has been finalised yet.

“We are confident of working out a mutually acceptable seat sharing agreement although a tug of war is on for the Guwahati and Tezpur seats,” senior Assam BJP leader Mission Ranjan Das told IANS.

The AGP is adamant on contesting both the Guwahati and Tezpur parliamentary seats.

“We want to contest the Guwahati and the Tezpur seats and a final agreement should be reached on this very soon,” AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary said.

The AGP and the BJP had a pre-poll alliance during the 2001 assembly elections in Assam although the combine was routed by the Congress party.

Another major opposition combine taking shape in Assam in the form of a ‘third front’ is the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), the Left parties and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

“We want to form an anti-BJP and anti-Congress front and hope to capitalise in the elections,” said AUDF president Badruddin Ajmal.

The AUDF sprang a surprise in the 2006 assembly elections winning 11 seats, the third major political formation in Assam after the Congress and the AGP.

As things stands now, the Congress has emerged as the frontrunner in terms of poll preparedness with both the AGP-BJP combine and the AUDF-led third front still wrestling among each other to work out seat sharing agreements.

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