With Durga Puja festivities now over, the campaign for the October 30 by-elections to five Assembly seats in Assam gathered momentum on Saturday.
Though there are 31 candidates in the fray for the five seats, the main contest is between the ruling BJP-led alliance and the main opposition Congress.
The BJP has fielded Phanidhar Talukdar in Bhabanipur, Rupjyoti Kurmi in Mariani and Sushanta Borgohain in Thowra, while its ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) has fielded Jiron Basumatary and Jolen Daimary in Gossaigaon and Tamulpur, respectively.
Talukdar, a former leader of the Muslim dominated All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), and ex-Congress leaders Kurmi and Borgohain were elected in the March-April Assembly polls, but all the three recently joined the BJP after quitting their membership of the Assembly.
The Congress has fielded Jowel Tudu in Gossaigaon, Sailendra Nath Das in Bhabanipur, Bhaskar Dahal in Tamulpur, Luhit Konwar in Mariani and Manoranjan Konwar in Thowra.
The AIUDF and the Bodoland People’s Front, both of which contested the March-April Assembly elections as partners of the Congress-led 10-party ‘Mahajot’ (grand alliance) before breaking the ties recently, have fielded candidates in Gossaigaon and Bhabanipur.
The Communist Party of India, which was also an ally of the ‘Mahajot’, has fielded one candidate in Thowra — Krishna Gogoi.
Various other local parties have put up nominees while there are 12 Independent candidates in the electoral race.
The by-elections were necessitated due to the Covid-related deaths of two sitting MLAs, while two Congress and one AIUDF legislator joined the BJP after quitting their Assembly membership.
Union minister and former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had vacated his Majuli seat after his recent election to the Rajya Sabha, but the Election Commission is yet to announce the by-election to the seat.
The counting of votes will take place on November 2.