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BJP emerging clear leader in Assam rural elections

BJP workers in Guwahati on Thursday celebrating their victory in the panchayat elections in Assam.

BJP workers in Guwahati on Thursday celebrating their victory in the panchayat elections in Assam.  

Counting of votes in 2,200 Gaon Panchayats to end today: officials

The Bharatiya Janata Party bucked the losing trend elsewhere in the country to maintain a comfortable lead over the rival Congress in the Assam panchayat polls by the second day of the counting of results on Thursday. Officials said counting of votes polled across all the 2,200 Gaon Panchayats would end on Friday.

Protests against Bill

The results indicated that the Statewide protests against the Narendra Modi government’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, had little impact on the BJP in the rural polls. The BJP’s ruling ally, the Asom Gana Parishad, which contested the polls on its own and had threatened to pull out of the government over the Bill, failed to capitalise on the sentiments.

The Bill seeks to legitimise the stay of non-Muslims who allegedly fled persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

State Election Commissioner Harendra Nath Bora said the BJP was leading the tally when reports last came in. “The counting of paper ballots, which started on Wednesday, will take some more time,” he said.

So far, the BJP has won 7,768 Gaon Panchayat member seats, 653 Anchalik Panchayat members, 605 Gaon Panchayat presidents, and 223 Zila Parishad members seats. The Congress was a distant second with 3,948 GPM, 365 APM, 293 GPP, and 131 ZPM seats.

Altogether 78,571 candidates contested for the 26,808 seats. Of them, 1,512 contested for 420 ZPM, 7,004 for 2,199 APM, 7,667 for 2,199 GPP, and 62,388 for 21,990 GPM seats.

Earlier, 734 candidates – 380 from the BJP, 193 from the Congress, 28 from the AGP, 10 from the All India United Democratic Front, five from the Bodoland Peoples Front, one from the CPI(M), and 117 Independents – were declared elected unopposed.

The two-phase polls were held on December 5 and 9.

Acid test for BJP

The rural polls were said to have been an acid test for the BJP, which rode on the ‘Modi wave’ to win 60 of Assam’s 126 Assembly seats in the 2016 elections. The Assam win opened the floodgates for the BJP to capture power in five other northeastern States – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.

But the controversy over the Citizenship Bill was said to have affected the party’s image in Assam with 70 organisations representing indigenous groups as well as AGP stepping up attacks on the Sarbananda Sonowal-government for toeing the ‘Hindutva’ line to dump ‘Hindu Bangladeshis’ on Assam via the Bill.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 2:12:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-emerging-clear-leader-in-assam-rural-elections/article25737547.ece

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