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Assam Legislative Assembly election, 2016

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Assam Legislative Assembly election, 2016

The legislative assembly election were held in two phases on 4 and 11 April 2016 to elect members of the 126 constituencies in Assam. The overall polling percentage in Assam elections of 2016 was 84.72%, which is highest in the history of Assam. The turnout saw an increase from the 2011 Assembly election figure, which was 75%.

Contents

The counting of votes and results declaration was done on 19 May 2016.

Background

The tenure of Assam assembly ended on June 5, 2016. The full bench of the Election commission headed by Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi visited Assam on 21 December 2015. Voter-verified paper audit trail were introduced in 10 constituencies (around 2400 polling booths) in Assam assembly polls. These included all four assembly constituencies in Kamrup Metro district-Dispur, Jalukbari, Gauhati East and Gauhati West. 250 polling stations were made model polling stations.

Electoral process

National Register of Citizens of India (NRC) is being updated in Assam and the process is to be completed by 1 January 2016. The process is monitored by Supreme Court. By September 2015, The first phase of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was completed, with over 66.90 lakh households submitting forms linking themselves to either the NRC of 1951 or any of the electoral rolls prior to 24 March 1971. It will be followed by task of verifying the applications. The whole exercise is meant for detection, detention and deportation of the illegal migrants who crossed over to Assam from Bangladesh on or after March 25, 1971. Since 1985, Foreigners’ Tribunals have declared over 38,000 persons in Assam as illegal migrants. Nearly 1.5 lakh names in Assam’s electoral rolls carry the prefix “D” — for “Doubtful” citizenship status. Supreme Court has directed Assam Government to complete upgrading of draft as well as the final NRC by March 1, 2016. In May 2015, the historic India Bangladesh land swap deal was signed.

According to the draft electoral rolls published in October 2015, the total number of voters in Assam stand at 1.92 crore. Election Commission has said that final electoral rolls will be published by 11 January 2016. In November 2015, Union Minister and Lakhimpur MP Sarbananda Sonowal was made Assam BJP chief and he will head election committee. Sonowal labelled the situation of ‘illegal immigration’ from Bangladesh “very alarming. Sonowal was pioneer in getting the controversial IMDT Act struck down by Supreme court of India in December 2006. Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state Congress heavyweight joined BJP. BJP has aimed for ‘Mission 84’ in Assam. BJP led in 69 assembly constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections 2014 by winning 7 Lok Sabha seats in Assam. For the first time, the BJP had contested the Bodoland Territorial Council elections, and won a seat.

Religion data

According to the 2011 census, 61.5% were Hindus, 34.22% were Muslims. Christian minorities (3.7%) are found among Scheduled Tribe population. Scheduled Tribe population in Assam is around 13% in which Bodos account for 40%.

Out of 32 districts of Assam, 11 are Muslim majority according to the 2011 census of India. The districts are Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Karimganj, South Salmara and Mankachar, Hailakandi, Darrang and Bongaigaon. Bodos have a population share of 12% -it include all sections in the greater Kachari group. The share of the Assamese speakers in Assam was 48.80% in 2001 census. Assamese-speaking Muslims, also known as Khilonjia Muslims, who include groups such as Goria and Moria are estimated to be around 40 lakhs in population out of total 1 crore Muslims in Assam.

Campaign

In November 2015, BJP President Amit Shah held a BJP party workers’ rally in Dibrugarh in Upper Assam Division. In December 2015, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi visited Assam where he accused RSS workers of not letting him enter temple in Barpeta district, Barpeta Satra. RSS denied the charge. Rahul Gandhi announced that Tarun Gogoi will be chief minister candidate of Congress. There is a growing demand for giving scheduled tribe(ST) status to six communities — Tai Ahoms, Koch Rajbongshis, Moran, Motok, Sootea and 36 tea tribes (the descendants of tea garden workers settled by British in the state from Chotanagpur plateau in the mid 19th century). NDA government may bring an ordinance for the ST status before elections,which has been raised by ULFA initially.

In November 2015, nine Congress MLAs joined BJP. Assam Governor PB Acharya made a controversial statement that Hindustan is only for Hindus. Ex-Ulfa rebels announced to contest Assam polls. On 26 December 2015, BJP's Assam unit launched its ambitious 'Assam Nirman' initiative, seeking public opinion to prepare a vision document for making Assam developed.

On 28 December 2015, Smriti Irani visited Barak Valley in Assam and accused Tarun Gogoi government for not doing enough for women safety. Tarun Gogoi accused the NDA government of adopting dillydally tactics on granting citizenship to 'persecuted' refugees from Bangladesh. Gogoi said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was busy meeting businessmen in Assam during her visit instead of talking about the problems and issues confronting the state like the declared illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, reports of China constructing dams in the upper reaches of Brahmaputra and North-eastern insurgents in Myanmar.

In January 2016, the Gogoi government announced rice prices at Rs 2 per kilogramme and to build all-religion bhawans. Assam Congress President rule out any alliance with AIUDF, AGP. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Assam on 3 January 2016 and said the fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh border will be completed by December 2016. A delegation of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) also met Rajnath Singh and visited the border areas. Rajnath Singh visited Dhubri district and expressed dissatisfaction with the fencing work there. He said that a feasibility study and two pilot projects are underway in Dhubri sector of the riverine border. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that 97.32% of the border fencing work in Karimganj and Dhubri was complete and asked the Central Government to take up a pilot project involving technological solution to plug the riverine border.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Kokrajhar on 19 January 2016, after his visit to Sikkim on 18 January 2016. Modi formally announced the alliance of BPF with BJP in Assam.

On 28 January, the BJP Parliamentary Board announced Sarbananda Sonowal as BJP Chief Ministerial candidate of Assam. Union minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman accused chief minister Tarun Gogoi with spreading misinformation on the suspension of the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007. Ethnic groups of Assam sought ULFA pro-talks faction headed by founding general secretary Anup Chetia help to get ST tag.

Narendra Modi arrived on 5 February to first attend the 85th conference of the Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha at the erstwhile Ahom capital of Sivasagar, and then he addressed a rally at Moran in Dibrugarh district in Upper Assam. Modi dedicated the Assam gas cracker project at Dibrugarh to the nation. Modi then inaugurated the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati on 5 February.

On 2 March, the BJP announced its alliance with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). AGP was given 24 seats. CM Tarun Gogoi announced a special package of Rs 3,000 cr for Barak Valley. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi visited Assam for two days on 4 and 5 March 2016 and addressed public meetings in Silchar and Nagaon. On 6 March 2016, Congress tied up with odo heartland-based United People’s Party.

On 10 March, BJP declared candidates for the first phase of Assam elections. Out of 126 Assembly constituencies, BJP would contest in 84 constituencies and leave 42 others to its four allies - AGP (24), BPF (16), Rabha Jatiya Aikya Manch (1) and Tiwa Jatiya Aikya Manch (1). BJP gives tickets to two ex-millitants including Bhaskar Sarma( accused of secret killings). On 16 March 2016, Sarbananda Sonowal filed his nomination for Majuli (ST) assembly seat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Majuli on 23 March 2016. The Congress released its first list of 65 candidates on March 15, 2016. The second list of 57 candidates was announced on March 21, 2016. Congress will contest on 122 seats while its ally United People’s Party will contest on remaining 4 seats. BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma files nomination papers from Jalukbari on 21 March 2016. AIUDF will contest around 76 seats while its allies in Assam - RJD and JD(U) will contest on 12 seats each. AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal will contest from South Salmara seat, while CM Tarun Gogoi is contesting from Titabar seeat against BJP MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa.

Schedule

The dates of the election were announced on 4 March 2016. Previous assembly polls, all 140 ACs went to polls on the same day.

On 12 February 2016, Election Commission of India announced that 10 assembly constituencies in Assam will have 2300 Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines attached along with EVMs.

The polling will be held in two phases. The first phase on 4 April 2016 and the second phase on 11 April 2016. The counting is scheduled on 19 May 2016 for both the phases.

Voting

The overall polling percentage in Assam elections of 2016 was 84.72%. 87.03% polling was recorded in second phase in assam, which is highest in Assam. One died in the police firing in Assam. 189 EVMs were replaced in final phase due to technical snag. BJP is hoping that high vote turnout is in their favour, but many political journalists believe that this may go in favor of congress as voting turnout was more than 90% in areas of Lower Assam where fight is believed to be between congress and AIUDF. A total of 1,064 candidates contested the Assam elections- 122 are from the Congress, 89 from the BJP, 74 from the AIUDF, 30 from AGP, 13 from the BPF, 15 from CPI, 19 from CPM, 205 others and 497 Independents. The total number of polling stations in Assam was 24,890, spread across 50 election districts in the state.

References

Assam Legislative Assembly election, 2016 Wikipedia


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