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Assam Assembly election | First phase of polls prompt mind games

Political parties make claims and counter claims in the run-up to the next two rounds on April 1 and 6.

The heavy polling in the first phase in Assam has triggered a psychological warfare among political parties for the next two phases that vote on April 1 and April 6.

Hours after all prominent newspapers in Assam carried advertisements claiming that the BJP would win all the 47 seats that voted on Saturday, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Badruddin Ajmal, an ally of the Congress, tweeted that the Congress-led alliance will win 30 seats.

“I am very happy to hear from my friends in Upper Assam that the Congress led #Mahajot has swept the first phase. The lowest figure I am hearing from anyone is 30 seats. AIUDF looks forward to supporting a Congress Chief Minister after May 2,” Mr. Ajmal tweeted.

In the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP had swept the Upper Assam region and the North Bank areas, winning most of the seats. The BJP alliance had won 41 of the phase I seats while the Congress had only managed 6.

Terming the newspaper ads as a sign of “nervousness” in the BJP camp, a senior Congress leader told The Hindu that even Home Minister Amit Shah conceded 10 seats to the Opposition as he put the BJP figure at 37.

“The idea of the advertisement is to tell the voters that we will win all the seats in phase I, so don’t waste your vote in the subsequent phases. It’s a sign of desperation,” a Congress strategist said.

While the Congress-led Mahajot (grand alliance) is hoping to make a fight on many of the 39 seats in phase II covering the Barak Valley, parts of lower Assam like Nalbari and Rangiya, central Assam seats of Nagaon, Hojai, Jamunamukh and the hill district seats of Haflong and Diphu, the 40 seats in the last phase are meant to be a stronghold of the Mahajot.

The Muslim community is a determining factor in many of the seats in the last phase and is overwhelmingly supporting the grand alliance.

“Our alliance will sweep the seats in Barak Valley where Bengali Hindus are dominant, score big in Bodoland region and win all the urban seats. The Congress will find out the reality on May 2. Until then, they can claim anything they like,” said a top BJP leader.

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