According to Assam Police sources, outgoing Deputy Speaker and BJP candidate from Sonai, Aminul Haque Laskar was gheraoed by the public when he went to a polling station. Sources said his PSO allegedly fired from his service weapon to protect the candidate leading to injury to three persons. The incident happened at Polling station number 109, 463 Madhya Dhanohari LP School, Dhanohari under Sonai police station. BL Meena SP Cachar rushed to the spot. Further details awaited.

Polling for the second phase of Assam assembly elections on 1st April, Thursday, will decide the fate of 345 candidates in 39 constituencies across 13 districts.

Over 73.44 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes in the second phase of the election. Of them, 37,34,537 are male voters and 36,09,959 are female voters, while 135 are third gender voters.

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The latest updates by the Election Commission at 04:12 pm showed that Assam has recorded a voter turnout of 63.04%.

People in Assam have shown Congress-led alliance “red card”: PM Modi

Kokrajhar: Drawing a football analogy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday claimed the people of Assam have shown the “red card” to the Congress-led Grand Alliance in the state.

He also accused the previous Congress governments of being mute spectators for decades to unbridled violence in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) of the state.

“Football is a popular sport among the youths of Assam, and to use their parlance, the people of Assam have shown the Congress-led alliance the red card,” he said addressing an election rally at Kokrajhar.

People of Assam have bestowed their blessings on the NDA in the first phase of the assembly poll and the voting that is going for the second phase today is also encouraging, he said.

He alleged the Congress governments in the state and at the Centre did nothing for decades to check violence in the Bodoland areas.

“In the long years of its rule, the Congress threw Bodoland into a bomb, bandook (gun) and blockade culture. In 2016, we had come to you with the promise of peace and development. During the last five years, we made sincere efforts and gifted Bodoland peace and respect,” he said.

It was under former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that the first Bodo Accord was signed and the present NDA government has paved the way for permanent peace by sealing the historic Bodoland Accord, leading to progress and development of the region, he said.

“Our mantra for the BTR is peace, progress and protection, and we have initiated the development of the region by bringing in projects to the tune of thousands of crore of rupees,” the prime minister said.

Thousands of militant youth have surrendered with their arms and the NDA is committed to their rehabilitation, he said.

“I also appeal to those who have not returned to the social mainstream so far to come back and join the process of peace and development,” he said.

Targeting the Congress over its alliance with Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF, Modi said the main opposition party had surrendered before “tala-chabi wale”. Padlock and key are the election symbol of the AIUDF.

“Congress was responsible for the violence in BTR and did nothing to resolve it. Mothers and sisters living in BTR have not forgotten those dark days of violence and killing.

“Now look at their (Congress’s) audacity–they are joining hands with those whose support they needed earlier for their vote-bank politics…they are now forming an alliance of lies with them and dreaming to form the government. Congress has surrendered to these forces in its lust for power,” he added.

Referring to a video in which Badruddin Ajmal was seen throwing the traditional ‘gamosa’ (stole) on the stage at an election rally, the prime minister said, “The images have hurt people and made them angry. They will not tolerate this insult to Assam’s symbol of identity and the labour of its sisters. People will give an appropriate answer through ballots.”

“The Congress and its alliance will be punished for it. We will never allow them to loot the hard-earned peace,” he asserted.

Several top BJP leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah have accused Ajmal and his party of encouraging illegal immigration from Bangladesh, a hugely contentious and divisive issue in the northeastern state.

The Congress will go to any extent to tell lies and spread rumours but the people of BTR must be very careful, he said.

People should remember that the NDA is committed to safeguarding and strengthening the Bodo society through peace and development, and make its candidates victorious in the same way they did in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls in December last year, the prime minister said.

“This election is between the ‘Mahajhooth’ (grand lies) of the ‘Mahajhot’ (grand alliance) and the NDA’s double-engine ‘Mahavikas’ (grand development,” he asserted.

He alleged that while Congress betrayed every community in the state, the NDA government worked for the welfare of all like the Koch, Rajbongshis, Moran, Muttocks and Chutiya.

The NDA is committed to protecting and honouring the traditions, language, culture and identity of each community, he said.

He alleged that Congress had allowed encroachment of land of the ‘sattras’ (Vaishnavite monasteries) and ‘namghars’ (prayer halls) by illegal immigrants but the state’s NDA government got them freed.

Accusing the Congress of creating a divide between the people of Brahmaputra and Barak Valley, of the plains and hills, Modi said, the NDA government worked hard to create a strong bond between them.

E-rickshaw facility for senior citizens, saplings gifted to first voters in Cachar

Silchar: The Cachar district administration has provided an e-rickshaw facility to senior citizens having difficulty in mobility for travelling to the polling stations to cast their votes in the second phase of Assam assembly elections held on Thursday.

Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli also said that the administration has gifted saplings to the first male, female and senior citizen voters in many polling stations.

“The e-rickshaw facility has been provided to 60-plus voters in Cachar especially to those who have difficulty in mobility. They are also being felicitated for exercising their franchise,” Jalli told PTI.

The deputy commissioner said several eco-friendly model polling stations have been set up where only recyclable materials were used and these model polling stations have shown the cultural legacy of the district through the display of handicrafts and handlooms.

Members of self-help groups were involved in erecting beautiful gates with traditional ‘Sheetal Pati’ mats, local garments and decorative pieces.

A record 201 polling stations, out of 1,834 in Cachar district, were completely managed by women officials. The figure is 20 times more than 2016 polls when all-women-run polling stations was just 10.

The district has about 12 lakh voters who are exercising their franchise to elect seven MLAs.

The first phase of elections to the 126-member Assam assembly was held on March 27 and the third phase will be held on April 6.

EC notice to Himanta Biswa Sarma for threatening Mohilary

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Thursday issued a show cause notice to Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

Sarma allegedly made threatening remarks against opposition leader Hagrama Mohilary of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) on March 29.

He has been asked to respond to the notice by 5 pm on April 2.

The Congress had approached the EC alleging that Sarma had threatened to send Mohilary to jail by misusing the NIA.

The Bodoland People’s Front is an ally of the Congress in Assam.

Assam elections: 48.26 per cent of 73.45 lakh voters exercise their franchise till 1 pm in 39 assembly seats where polling is underway in the second phase.

Assam recorded a voter turnout of 27.45 per cent till 12:22 pm across 39 constituencies in 13 districts during the second phase of the state assembly polls.

Women turn out in large numbers, overall situation peaceful

Guwahati: Long queues were seen outside most of the booths as women stepped out in large numbers during the early hours of polling at 39 seats in the second phase of the assembly elections in Assam.

Though there were reports of EVM glitches from some polling stations, the exact figure was yet to be ascertained, an official said.

An estimated 10.51 per cent of the total 73,44,631 electorate exercised their franchise till 9 am, they said.

The elections started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm.

At most of the places, people were seen following COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

Sanitisers were made available at all the booths, while temperatures were being checked with thermal scanners.

The fate of 345 candidates, including five ministers and the deputy speaker, is being decided in this phase.

The constituencies are spread over 13 districts in Barak Valley, the Hill districts and parts of central and lower Assam.

No untoward incident was reported and the overall situation was peaceful, officials said.

Several constituencies received heavy overnight showers but the weather cleared in the morning, helping record the significant turnout in the initial hours, they said.

Rains and thunderstorms are common here before the Rongali Bihu festival, which is a fortnight away.

In many of the 117 model polling stations, the first voters were greeted with ‘gamosas’, and in some with saplings.

21.71% voter turnout recorded till 11:17 am in the second phase of polling in Assam: Election Commission of India.

AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi’s mother passes away

Tinsukia: Dulu Gogoi, the mother of Assam Jatiya Parishad president Lurinjyoti Gogoi, passed away at a private hospital in Dibrugarh on Wednesday night.

Gogoi had suffered a stroke on Monday morning and was brought to Sanjeevani Hospital in Dibrugarh from her Sivasagar residence. She was put on ventilator support and breathed her last at 10.45 pm, according to sources.  

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted at 23.55 on Wednesday: “Saddened to learn of the demise of Dulu Gogoi, mother of Shri @lurinjtgogoi. In this hour of grief, I offer my deepest condolences to Lurinjyoti and his family and prayers for peace of the departed soul. Om Shanti.”

On Thursday morning, her last rites were performed by Lurinjyoti Gogoi. “AASU general secretary Shankarjyoti Baruah and other members were present during the funeral,” added sources.

AJP, the newly-carved regional political party, is a product of the fallout of anti-CAA protests that rocked the state of Assam and is contesting first ever assembly elections.

Gogoi, the party president, is contesting Assam Assembly elections from Duliajan LAC and Naharkatia LAC, which voted in the first phase on March 27.

A Pwd Voter gets ready to cast his vote in 86-Nagaon LAC, as part of the Phase II Polls of Assam Assembly Elections.

As Barak Valley votes today, BJP bats for CAA

Everyone from Delhi to Dispur is on the same page on the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), senior BJP leader and Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy said as Assam’s 39 seats vote in the second phase.  

“It is a big issue. CAA has been our central issue. Thats where journey of the BJP started in Barak,” Roy told EastMojo on Wednesday. He won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by defeating Congress’ top leader Sushmita Dev.

BJP leader and Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy after casting his vote on Thursday.

The controversial law led to widespread protests in the state, including in Upper Assam, which voted in the first phase of polling for 47 seats on March 27 when approximately 80% voters turned out. But it’s an emotive issue among the Bengali speaking Hindus of the Barak Valley, many of whom migrated in the aftermath of partition.

The 13 districts going to polls in the second phase include the crucial three districts of Barak Valley in Southern Assam. Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi account for 15 Assembly constituencies. There are five Assembly constituencies in the hill districts of Karbi Anglong, Karbi Anglong West and Dima Hasao. The remaining 19 constituencies are spread over Hojai, Nagaon, Darrang, Udalguri, Morigaon, Kamrup and Nalbari districts. 

According to the Election Commission of India figures, there are 345 candidates in fray in the second phase and 73.44 lakh voters who will decide their fate.

“There is a not even a single election where we have not mentioned about protection to persecuted people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Roy said.

“Bureaucrats in the Home ministry are working. Everyone from Delhi to Dispur is on the same page. Rules will be framed not just for Assam but for the persecuted people in the whole country,” he said. 

There have been speculations that the CAA rules have been kept in abeyance because of the polls in Assam where a large section, especially in the Brahmaputra Valley, have been opposed to the law. The BJP leadership, which has shied away from making the new law a big election issue in the Brahmaputra Valley, has cited COVID-19 as the reason for not framing the rules. 

The Congress continues to oppose the law as it tries to tap on the angst against the law in the Brahmaputra Valley.

On Tuesday, as Rahul Gandhi cancelled his plans to visit Barak Valley because of bad weather, he release a video where he again attacked the law. “We will not let CAA be implemented in Assam. That is our first guarantee. This is an attack on Assam. It is an attack on your language, history and culture,” Gandhi, sporting an anti-CAA gamusa is seen saying in the video as he read out Congress’ four other guarantees.

Gandhi also promised implementation of Article 244 (A) which allows for creation of autonomous state within Assam, a demand of hill district tribals. 

Meanwhile, the Congress’ stand on CAA caused issues for the party in the Bengali speaking Barak Valley, especially in the Lok Sabha polls. The losses may be reversed in the ongoing Assembly Polls as Congress is contesting the elections in alliance with the AIUDF and others. Badruddin Ajmal-led party has influence in Barak Valley. 

The BJP-AGP had won 25 seats out of these 39 in the 2016 Assembly polls. The seats that the BJP won include Ratabari, Patharkandi, Silchar, Sonai, Dholai, Udharbond, Barkhola and  Katigora in Barak Valley, Haflong, Bokajan, Howraghat, Diphu and Baithalangso in hill districts and  Rangiya, Nalbari, Sipajhar, Mangaldoi, Jagiroad, Morigaon, Raha, Nowgong, Hojai and Lumding in other districts. Its alliance partner the AGP won in Kamalpur and Barhampur. 

BJP-led alliance has multiple hurdles in this phase. It denied tickets to some of its bigwigs, including Silchar MLA Dilp Paul and Hojai MLA Shiladitya Dev. While Dev was cajoled to not contest as an independent, Paul still went ahead and filed his nomination. 

“In the entire state so many sitting MLAs have not been given ticket. There are three in my district alone. Nobody is contesting as independent. He is the only one. Rank and file of BJP is not bothered. He will get minuscule number of votes,” Roy said, adding that the people of the Barak are happy the way BJP has ushered in development and ended alienation, which was being practised by the erstwhile Congress governments. 

Of the 15 Barak Valley seats, the Congress won three while the AIUDF won four. The alliance could make things difficult for the BJP this time as it will have to get past the combined might of the two parties. 

“It appears tough for the BJP,” said a senior BJP leader who was among the founders of the party. 

Roy, however, claims chemistry between the BJP and the people would trump arithmetic of the Congress-led alliance. “We will get double figure seats in Barak,” Roy claimed.

Voter turnout was recorded at 10.51% in Assam as of 9 am, according to the Election Commission of India.

Assam 2021: What next for Dilip Paul, the life-long BJP leader who quit alleging ‘Syndicate Raj’?

If there is one thing that is guaranteed during elections, it is the resignation, anger, and blame-games of leaders who do not get tickets from their parties. Two-time MLA from Silchar and former deputy speaker of Assam legislative assembly Dilip Kumar Paul is no different. Paul resigned from the BJP before the election, thereby ending his four-decade-long relationship with the saffron party. The party has seen rebellions in the wake of the candidate list, but while Himanta Biswa Sarma managed to calm down others, he could not do the same with Paul.

Despite being a two-time MLA, Paul got snubbed by the BJP for the 2021 elections. BJP general secretary Arun Singh announced that Dipayan Chakraborty would be the new face of the BJP from Silchar. The decision shocked Paul, who had performed well in the last two elections. He defeated Congress’ Arun Dutta Mazumdar in the 2014 by-poll by a margin of 37,441 votes. In the 2016 Legislative Assembly Elections, Paul’s vote-share increased as he got 94,787 votes against Congress’ Bithika Dev, who got 54,867 votes.

But Paul did not quit the BJP silently. He tried to ‘expose’ issues, including how some BJP leaders were involved with syndicates involved in illegal activities. “So many faces in the party are involved in illegal syndicates, earning a lot of money. I tried to oppose them when I was at the party to an extent, but I failed to expose them. I feel bad for Sarbananda Sonowalm because he is a good man, but it seems he is helpless in the party now.”

“We saw leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, and Sushma Swaraj when we joined the BJP. Our ideologies were that of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. But today, many have joined the BJP for power, and they are trying to sideline seniors. Unfortunately, these people are deciding who will contest in the election and who will not. This is not the BJP we worked for. Hence I decided to quit the party and contest the election as an independent candidate to save our ideology.”

Paul also took aim at Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy. “My sources said that at one point, Rajdeep Roy threatened to quit the party if I got a ticket. Roy is a Member of Parliament so the party respected his words and sacrificed my efforts. But there is another reason behind this. The distribution of ticket in the Cachar district shows a sharp role of the syndicate. I was the only obstacle against the syndicate and their illegal operations, so they removed me,” he added.

Referring to Dilip Kumar Paul’s allegations, MP Rajdeep Roy said, “We are all loyal to the party. In the past, I too was snubbed by the party but I did not revolt. If Dilip Babu had so many complaints, he could have mentioned them earlier. Now there is no point in saying these things before the election. He has lost his way somewhere in the middle, but I do hope he regains his senses and returns.”

Sarbananda Sonowal visited Silchar on March 11, when all seven Cachar district candidates filed their nominations. When the media asked Sonowal about Paul’s resignation and his allegations of the ‘Syndicate Raj’, the Chief Minister did not reply.

Before Sarbananda Sonowal, NEDA chief Himanta Biswa Sharma also came to Silchar, but Dilip Kumar Paul refused to meet him. While addressing a gathering here, Sharma said, “We all are party workers first. For us, the nation and party are bigger than an individual. If the party has chosen Dipayan Chakraborty over Dilip Kumar Paul, Paul Dangoriya must support him.”

Himanta Biswa has managed to convince other BJP leaders who were denied tickets with the ‘party before the individual’ argument. Shiladitya Deb of Hojai is perhaps the biggest such name. But Dilip Kumar Paul is a senior BJP leader who is also a lifelong RSS follower. When Paul submitted his nomination on March 12 as an independent candidate, he was joined by many of his supporters. They raised slogans like ‘Khela Hobe’ ‘Syndicate Raj Go Back’ etc., Congress supporters also raised similar slogans while submitting his nomination. Paul has said that his direct fight is with the Congress candidate and not the BJP, but it remains to be seen which party he inflicts more damage upon.

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