With polling underway in the first phase of Assam and West Bengal Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other politicians made one last pitch for their parties as they urged voters to exercise their franchise in earnest.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged voters to cast their ballots against the Bharatiya Janata Party for the sake of India’s democracy. “Do cast your ballot against divisive forces to strengthen democracy,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
His sister and party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who has been vociferously campaigning for the Assam polls, urged people to vote for progress and the “golden future” of the state. In a Facebook post in Hindi, she urged the people of Assam, especially the youth and women, to vote in large numbers.
The Congress is fighting the Assam election in an alliance,with five other parties – the All India United Democratic Front, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation, and the Anchalik Gana Marcha. The party has fielded candidates in 43 constituencies of the 47 seats going to the polls in the first phase, while the AIUDF, CPI(ML-L), RJD and Anchalik Gana Morcha are contesting in one seat each.
It hopes to take advantage of the anti-CAA sentiments in the state this time, as it leads the grand anti-BJP alliance. The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, maintains that the CAA was a not a matter of concern and the politics around it will play no role in the election.
In West Bengal, the Congress is in a coalition with the Left parties and the Indian Secular Front.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party is seeking a serious bid for electoral victories in the two states, urged voters of Assam and West Bengal to exercise their right to franchise in record numbers. Modi, who is currently on a two-day visit to Bangladesh, particularly called upon the youth to vote for their representatives.
His close aide and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, too, appealed to voters in West Bengal to fearlessly vote in great numbers “to restore the pride of Bengal”.
“One vote of yours will make Bengal’s creation of the imagination of great men like Subhash Chandra Bose, Gurudev Tagore and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee,” the BJP leader wrote on Twitter.
Modi and Shah campaigned aggressively for their Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal, luring local politicians away from the Trinamool Congress party, whose head Mamata Banerjee has been the chief minister since 2011.
The Trinamool Congress leader took to Twitter as she called upon the people of West Bengal to vote in large numbers.
Shah also encouraged the voters in Assam to come out in large numbers to cast their ballot, in the “interest of maintaining peace, development and prosperity” in the state. “Your participation in this great mountain of democracy is a major pillar of Assam’s progress, so declare your right to vote,” he wrote.
West Bengal BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, meanwhile, urged voters to exercise their franchise, calling it an act that was “not only necessary for the democracy but also important for overthrowing of chaotic Mamata Banerjee government”.
In Assam, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal posted a photo of himself after casting his vote, saying he voted “for the protection of sabhyata, sanskriti and overall development of Assam”.
Sonowal is in the fray in the first phase, contesting from Majuli (ST) seat where he is locked in a direct contest with three-time former Congress MLA and former minister Rajib Lochan Pegu.
The BJP leader appeared confident of a victory. “Congress and other parties are only seen in the media but BJP and its allies are the ones on the ground,” he told reporters, according to ANI. “People of Assam now know that CAA-NRC will not affect them. My aim is to make the BJP government in the state again.”