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Assam To Glitter With Star Campaigners . Helicopter AssamPoll: Cong-2; BJP-2, AIUDF-1 AGP-0

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By Bhupen Goswami

Guwahati :  With the filing of nominations for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections ending on Tuesday, electioneering has gained its momentum. Star campaigners of all the political parties will begin their campaigns for the polls in an attempt to attract as many votes as possible. Parties such as Congress, BJP are pitching their best foot forward in order to come to power. BJP staying a step ahead has already decided on the dates of visit of their star campaigners. The national party president, Amit Shah is set to address campaign rally in Assam on March 28. Shah will address two gatherings at Kakojan in Jorhat and Misa in Nagaon.

 On the other hand, India’s ‘Chowkidar’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address two election campaigns at Gohpur in Biswanath and Moran in Dibrugarh on March 30. From AICC, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to visit Assam in April for the poll campaign. Along with Priyanka, party president Rahul Gandhi, former party president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also feature in the list of Congress’ star campaigners to woo voters in Assam. However, the national party is yet to finalise the schedule for its star campaigners visits. Other campaigners representing the party for the two phases of LS polls are Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma, Harish Rawat, Ripun Bora, Tarun Gogoi, Debabrata Saikia, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Nadeem Javid, Keshab Chand Yadav, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Dr Mukul Sangma, Okram Ibobi Singh, Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Nagma Moraji, Imran Kidwai, Mohd Azharuddin, Rana Goswami, Bhupen Bora, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Santius Kujur, Ranee Narah, Gaurav Gogoi, Sushmita Dev, Rakibul Hussain, Rekibuddin Ahmed, Rupjyoti Kurmi, Kamrul Islam Choudhury, Bolin Kuli, Dwijen Sarma, Bishnu Prasad, Paban Singh Ghatowar, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, Siddique Ahmed and Pradyut Bordoloi. BJP’s alliance party Asom Gana Parishad will put forth Atul Bora, Keshab Mahanta, AIUDF Chief Badruddin Ajmal, BPF President Hagrama Mahilary to campaign for their party candidates.

 It may be noted that voting for the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls will be held on April 11, while voting for the second phase is scheduled for April 18. It is Cong-2; BJP-2, AIUDF-1 AGP-0. No we are not talking of Lok Sabha results. We are only taking of Helicopters hired by the political parties in Assam for Lok Sabha poll. With Rs 3 lakh per hour bill, the political parties feel that helicopters are must for the electioneering to cover the entire state. “It is expensive but it is worth it” said a BJP leader handling the Helicopter movement. The ruling BJP, principal opposition party Congress, as well as the AIUDF, have already hired choppers for poll campaign. “We have booked two choppers. Both are twin-engine. Our senior leaders, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, will use one of them, while the other will be used to ferry our star campaigners and visiting national level leaders for campaigning,” a senior State BJP leader told media. The BJP believes that the two helicopters will be sufficient for electioneering.

“There will be pressure as the star campaigners will move in. But we will manage” said the BJP leader adding that three phases have made it little easier.The Congress party is also not lagging behind. It has also hired two helicopters for the party’s election campaign in Assam. “Both are twin-engine choppers. They will be utilized by our senior leaders once filing of nominations is completed and full-fledged campaigning begins,” said a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) office-bearer.

Meanwhile, the AIUDF has booked a single-engine chopper for use during the election campaign. “It will be for use by our party president Badruddin Ajmal, who is also our main campaigner,” said a leader of the AIUDF. In contrast, regional player AGP has, however, decided not to use choppers for campaigning. “We are only contesting from three constituencies and as such we do not need to use helicopters. But, in case we feel that we have to use choppers in the later phase of electioneering, our party will think of hiring one,” said a senior AGP leader. The political parties are tightly lipped about the details regarding the expenditure being borne for hiring the helicopters.

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