Gogoi had a pan-Assam identity and no other leader in Congress enjoys that stature. On the other hand, the frequent visits of BJP’s heavyweights from Delhi — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and national party chief J P Nadda — have given a headstart to the party’s campaign in the state.
Meanwhile, EC seems to have strictly followed distinctive geographical, ethnic and linguistic divisions while finalising the poll schedule. The Brahmaputra Valley (comprising indigenous Assamese and tribal populace mostly in upper Assam), Bengali-dominated Barak Valley and minority and Bodo-dominated western Assam will go to the polls in three different phases.
The vast tea belt will go to the polls in the first phase on March 27. The upper Assam region, where Bihu is the most important festival, has been kept in the first phase (47 seats), much before the festival. The hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao have been clubbed with the three Barak Valley districts and will go for polls in the second phase (39 seats) on April 1.
The third and final phase will cover lower and western Assam as well as the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) areas that have become a vital factor in successive elections. Besides the Bodo-inhabited region, the migrated Muslims play a decisive role in lower Assam region where the BJP coalition needs to win to prove its pan-Assam acceptability.
The party also needs to battle the adversities in lower and central Assam region where a delay by the government in endorsing the updated NRC may put the ruling coalition in trouble. Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which guarantees the politico-socio-cultural identity of Assamese people, could become a game-changer.