A wind of change is blowing across the Northeastern state of Assam on the last day of campaigning for the first phase of the state elections today. Amid the full-blown battle of words, the votes ‘captured’ on Monday, the 4th of April, will decide who holds the edge as the campaigning for the second and final phase of polling – to be held on April 11 – will take steam.
While Assam boosts of several demographic divisions, the Election Commission’s two-phase formula with the traditional division of Upper Assam and Lower Assam going to polls in the alternative phases is being seen as best-benefitted for the political parties. While the general election issues remain the same, the hyper regional issues vary. For example, voters in the Thowra constituency (in Sivasagar district) wants better connectivity and electrification even as those in nearby Nazira are more concerned of the influx of illegal Bangladeshis. “We had the state power minister from our constituency. But, ironically, we still use kerosene lamps as we wait for the day when our village will get electricity. Our hopes rally when elections near as these are the times we feel the politicians listen to us. Hope the electricity poles – that we hear are being dumped in a nearby village – will reach us before it’s too late,” said a Thowra constituency villager in his late 70s who didn’t want to be named.
For people in Majuli, the irony is – they still live in the dream of conservation efforts to actually come into effect and help them save the river island. Beyond that, the residents look for better state of living, scope (read hope) for employment and ethnic security.
But on the other side, and contrary to the popular perception that Assam is among the poorest of states, there are 112 crorepati candidates fighting it out to represent the state voters. Around 21 per cent of the total number of 539 candidates contesting in the Assembly polls are crorepatis. In the first phase of polls, at least 56 crorepati candidates are in the fray.
And, there are 20 candidates, which accounts for four per cent of the total number of candidates in the fray, have declared asset worth over Rs 20 crore. Another 46 (9 per cent) candidates have assets between Rs 2 to 5 crore. Altogether 119 candidates (22 per cent) have properties between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore. However, 230 candidates, which accounts for 43 per cent, have assets worth less than Rs 10 lakh.
Crorepati or otherwise, the issues remain diverse and the candidates are finding it tough to meet all the demands being presented. Campaigners say the political leaders don’t have an option but to take note as ‘that is also an important matter’ this election. It is to be seen who holds the pitara at the end and who churns out the most out of it – and to whom.