New Delhi, March 5 : The BJP on Friday released its first list of 70 candidates for the Assam assembly polls and announced that allies Asom Gana Parishad and United People”s Party Liberal will contest on 26 and eight seats respectively.
The three-phased elections for the 126-member Assam assembly will be held on March 27, April 1 and April 6.
Party general secretary Arun Singh told a press conference that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will contest from the Majuli (ST) reserved constituency and state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma from Jalukbari.
The two seats are currently represented by the two top state BJP leaders in the assembly.
Assam BJP chief Ranjit Dass will contest the polls from Patacharkuchi instead of Sarbhog from where he won in the last elections.
The BJP took away from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) the Barhampur seat, where two-time chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has been an MLA since 1991, and fielded Jitu Goswami.
Speculation is rife that Mahanta, who has been undergoing treatment in Delhi, may fight the polls under the banner of another regional party.
The BJP also got from the AGP the Lakhimpur seat, where a confidante of Mahanta and former minister Utpal Dutta is MLA, and the Kamalpur seat, which was held by AGP MLA Satyabrat Kalita.
Sonowal, Sarma and two leaders of the AGP — party president and minister Atul Bora and executive president and minister Keshav Mahanta — were present at the press conference.
BJP general secretary Singh said the party in the first list has replaced 11 sitting MLAs with new faces.
The BJP has also fielded two former Congress ministers who had joined the party in the past — Ajanta Neog in Golaghat and Gautom Roy in Katigorah.
Among those who were again nominated by the BJP were assembly speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami (Jorhat), ministers Ranjeet Dutta (Behali), Jogen Mohan (Mahmora), Naba Kumar Doley (Dhakuakhana), Parimal Suklabaidya (Dholai), Bhabesh Kalita (Rangiya) and Piyush Hazarika (Jagiroad).
The list also includes four women candidates, including sitting MLA Angoorlata Deka (Batadroba).
In the first phase, 47 constituencies will go to polls, in the second phase, polling will be held in 39 constituencies and in the third phase, polling will be held in 40 constituencies.
The BJP central election committee had met here on Thursday to finalise these names.
The saffron party is pulling out all the stops to retain power in the state where it had formed government for the first time in 2016.
The BJP had won 60 seats in 2016, the AGP won 14 constituencies while the UPPL is a new partner of the BJP and does not have any MLA now. The BPF, which was part of the BJP-led alliance, had won 12 seats in 2016.
The BPF is no longer an alliance partner of the BJP and the regional party had recently joined the opposition Congress-led ”Mahajoot”.
(With PTI inputs )