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Rhinos being counted as numbers game begins in Asom

Written by: Staff

Kaziranga, Mar 26 (UNI) Inside the Kaziranga National Park, more than 150 personnel are busy counting rhinos, while just outside the park gate, the drivers of the enumerators are busy in animated discussion on who would form the next government in the state.

The drivers do not have much difficulty in reading the writing on the wall. According to them, it is advantage Congress, even if diehard supporters of the AGP and the BJP are still dreaming of a grand post-poll understanding to form the next government.

The final contours of Assam poll, 2006, apparently are fast emerging with the AGP and the Congress readying themselves for the kill reducing the BJP and smaller parties to post-poll players.

The Congress seems to be way ahead and the others are still busy in putting their house in order as breakaway factions, rebel candidates have dashed the hopes of most of the Opposition leaders.

There is supposedly an undercurrent of the anti-incumbency factor for the Congress in some areas but it has not turned into emotional tide to sweep them out.

As the cacophony of canvassing is reaching its crescendo, the BJP seems to be reconciled to the fact that they are playing a marginal role, while smaller, regional and Left parties are not sure what lies ahead in future as the Congress seems to be over confident and the AGP is hoping for a grand alliance.

''There is no contest. We are winning at least 80 seats. I think we should add nine more seats this time,'' said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Even the most optimistic of Congress supporters know it would be too tall a claim despite the fact that he personally enjoys a very high rating among the ordinary voters.

The AGP is also not far behind in the rhetoric. AGP general secretary Brindabon Goswami claimed he would be the next Chief Minister of Asom. '' This time there is unprecedented support for our party and hence we are confident that we would win,'' said Mr Goswami exuding confidence, but on the ground that is not the reality as the breakaway AGP (P) is determined to spoil the chances of the AGP.

The election also has seen the complete 'marginalisation' of Mr Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who has become more of a 'political liability' for others.

His party is contesting in and around 95 constituencies but there is actually fierce competition in five constituencies and in the remaining 90 they would be playing the role of a spoiler .

The BJP is still hoping to do well. '' We will like to be the kingmaker and the key to Dispur will be with us, '' said BJP in-charge for the state Pramod Mahajan adding the party has made real inroads into some parts of Barak valley and their attempts to break the Congress citadel among the tea gardens is evident everywhere.

The AGP is banking on the division of Muslim votes in the Congress camp but the 'real players' in the post-poll scenario are the Bodos.

''If we get about 15 seats, Dispur will be governed from Kokrajhar,'' said Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) leader Hagrama Mohillarry.

His faction of the Bodo is expected to sweep the Bodo-dominated constituencies and he has made it clear that they would support anyone, who would need their numbers for a stable government provided the state government help the Bodos.

As about a dozen seats are certain, they will not only play the 'most significant role' in the formation of the next government but could actually emerge as the third most important political party of Asom.

The Congress is sitting pretty with a tie-up with the Bodo parties and is confident of romping home. ''We will turn history wrong by regaining power,'' said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi when pointed out that no government in the past three decades had returned as the anti-incumbency wave had always swept them away.

The voters are looking into localised factors this time.


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