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BJP releases first list of 70 candidates for Assam elections, Sarbananda Sonowal, Himanta Biswa Sarma to contest from their constituencies

Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that he is not willing to contest the assembly elections, adding that he will accept the party's decision

All the speculations of senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been put to rest as the party has decided to field in the upcoming assembly elections in the state. BJP published a list of 70 candidates for the elections, which includes Himanta Biswa Sarma given the ticket for his Jalukbari constituency.

CM Sarbananda Sonowal will contest from Majuli like the last time, and party state president Ranjit Das will contest from Patacharkuchi. 11 sitting MLAs of BJP has not been given tickets this time by the party. Elections in Assam will take place in three phases, 27th March, 1st April and 6th April.

It is expected that the party will release a second list soon for the third phase, as the current list includes only the candidates for first and second phase. However, it includes two names for the third phase, Ranjit Das and Himanta Biswa Sarma. BJP will contest in 92 out of total 126 seats in the state. The party has given 26 seats to its ally AGP, and 8 seats to its new ally UPPL.

UPPL has replaced BPF in the Bodoland Territorial Region, where the BJP-UPPL had defeated the BPF govt in the elections held in December. BPF is part of the current BJP led government in Assam, but after BJP ditched in favour of UPPL, it has joined the opposition grand alliance comprising Congress, AIUDF and left parties.

It can be noted that Himanta Biswa Sarma had been saying that he does not want to contest the assembly elections, giving an indirect hint that he wants to move to the centre. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he was going to file nomination from Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency, but the party had stopped him at the last moment, saying that the party needs in Assam and the North East for the time being. Last month, he had said that he is not willing to contest the assembly elections, saying that he has informed his decision to the party president. He had however added that he will accept the decision of the party.

The list released by BJP also includes a candidate for Barhampur constituency, which is held by AGP leader and former two-time Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. As AGP has given away the seat to BJP, it is likely that Mahanta will quit the party soon. It is being speculated that he will join the Congress-led alliance, reviving Asom Gana Parishad-Progressive (AGP-P), a breakaway faction of the AGP. Mahanta, one of the founders of AGP, has been dissatisfaction over his party’s alliance with BJP since the beginning, and is also a vocal critic of the CAA.

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