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Parties confident of good show in 1st phase of polls
PRANJAL BHUYAN
 GUWAHATI, Dec 5 - Major political parties in the State, including the ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress, today exuded confidence of doing well in the first phase of the panchayat polls, voting for which took place today.

Leaders of various political parties told this newspaper that the mandate would be in their favour.

State BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami said that the saffron party is confident of winning at least 80 per cent of the seats where voting took place today.

“We will win in at least 80 per cent of the panchayats which went to the polls in the first phase,” Goswami said.

He added that the decision of the NDA partners, BJP and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), to contest the polls separately will not impact the saffron party’s prospects.

“As per our internal assessment, the division of votes will be very minimal. In 2014, we had contested the Lok Sabha elections alone and emerged victorious. Actually, people of Assam have realised that there is a nexus between the AGP and the Congress and even a legislator of the regional party has admitted it. In places like Dharmapur, Bokakhat and Khumtai, AGP and Congress leaders went public calling upon the voters to support each other’s candidates. So, both the parties got exposed before the electorate,” said the senior BJP leader.

He said that voters who cast their ballot in the first phase of the panchayat elections have opted for the BJP due to the “developmental works carried out by the NDA regimes in both New Delhi and Dispur, as well as due to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and the joint leadership of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam.”

Goswami said that governmental schemes are nowadays getting implemented in a transparent manner and benefiting the general public. He added that voters have also appreciated the drive against corruption carried out by the Sonowal government.

“We are committed to establishing a corruption-free panchayati raj system in the State. Voters in places like the Barak Valley and lower Assam, which will go to the polls in the second phase, will also support us in a big way. We will sweep Barak Valley and also win majority of seats in lower Assam,” Goswami said.

Opposition Congress, on the other hand, said that people will “teach a lesson to the BJP for its misrule”.

“We are happy with the turnout and confident that we will win a majority of seats in the first phase. People of Assam are desperate to teach a lesson to the BJP for its misrule, its U-turns, its broken promises and corruption and nepotism,” said State Congress secretary and spokesperson Rhituparna Konwar.

He said the BJP-led regimes at the Centre and in the State have failed to deliver. “We will win the panchayat polls this time. The trend from the first phase is good,” Konwar said.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) also claimed that it will emerge as the second largest party in the panchayat polls.

“We will do much better this time as compared to the previous panchayat polls. In the places where voting took place today, we will be number one as far as the strike rate of any party is concerned and we will be in number two position with regard to the total number of seats won. Overall also, we will emerge as the second largest party in the panchayat polls,” said Champak Kalita, general secretary of AIUDF.

He added that AIUDF will sweep all minority-dominated panchayats. “Congress will be decimated in the minority-dominated areas of Assam in these elections,” Kalita said.

NDA constituent AGP also exuded confidence of winning “maximum number of seats” in the first phase.

“Today’s first phase has gone well for us. We will win the maximum number of seats. We believe the people’s mandate is in our favour,” said AGP general secretary Manoj Saikia.

“Lower Assam will go to polls in the second phase and we are very strong in those areas. So, overall, we are confident of winning the panchayat elections this time,” he added.

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