ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Assam : Panchayat Elections Finally

Assam : Panchayat Elections Finally

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When the Congress, in its manifesto for the Assam assembly elections last year, committed itself to holding elections to panchayati raj bodies, the move had received a cautious welcome. One of the more glaring failures of the AGP government of Prafulla Mahanta had been its disinclination to conduct these polls which had been due since 1997. The AGP had blamed the delay on the opposition of the Bodoland autonomous council and the Tiwa, Mising and Rabha Hasong autonomous councils. However, election to the three-tier panchayats in the 21 plains districts of the state is an imperative under the Constitution and the AGP's repeated postponements were seen by the opposition as a deliberate manoeuvre to prevent a further erosion of the AGP's fortunes just before the assembly elections.

Finally, panchayat polls were conducted in the last week of December, after a gap of four years, to elect members to zilla parishads, anchalik parishads and gaon panchayats as well as gaon panchayat presidents. The ruling Congress decisively eclipsed its opponents, the AGP and the BJP. With this, the Congress has won three successive elections in the state, after the state assembly polls in May and two hill district council elections in November. More significantly, the results also suggest that the Congress has not only consolidated its traditional support bases in the tea garden and minority-dominated areas, but has been able to make inroads into areas believed to be strongholds of its rivals.

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