Assam: Keen contest in 8 Sonitpur constituencies
A keen battle is on the cards in 8 Sonitpur constituencies, where the fate of prominent candidates will be decided.
Tezpur: A keen battle is on the cards in the eight constituencies in Sonitpur district where the fate of several prominent candidates like Speaker Tanka Bahdur Rai, Irrigation Minister Nurjamal Sarkar, BJP state unit President Ranjit Dutta and former AGP President Brindabon Goswami will be decided.
There is no wave evident in favour of any particular party or candidate in the constituencies of Tezpur, Dhekiajuli, Barchalla, Bihali, Gohpur, Sootea, Rangpara and Biswanath in the second largest district of the state where the Congress had won four while the BJP and AGP two seats each in the last polls.
Located on the north bank of river Brahmaputra, the constituencies have a mixed electorate, totaling 11,24,949, comprising Assamese, Muslims, Nepali, Bengalis, Bodos, Scheduled Castes and Adivasi tea tribes who are keeping their choice of representative close to their hearts. The constituencies will witness multi-cornered contests with prominent Congress, AGP, BJP, CPM and even the fledgling All India Trinamool Congress candidates battling it out among 55 candidates in the poll scheduled to be held in the first phase.
The high-profile Tezpur constituency, dubbed as Assam's cultural capital, is likely to witness a four-pronged contest with sitting AGP MLA Brindabon Goswami being given a run for his money by political greenhorns Ritu Baran Sarmah of BJP and Rajen Barthakur of Congress along with once a political heavyweight and former Congress Minister Bijit Saikia who is now contesting on an AITMC ticket.
Goswami, who was projected as the AGP chief ministerial candidate in the 2006 Assembly polls, had won comfortably, polling 50.75 per cent of the total votes.
Though a large section of the electorate are openly questioning his contribution towards the constituency, Goswami is oozing confidence and says he will win comfortably as he "always had the best interests of the people in mind and tried his best to do what he could being in the opposition".
The BJP and Congress candidates, both in their early 40's, have the advantage of age on their side with both appealing to the youth - both rural and urban -to help them in "bringing about a positive change and make Tezpur a model constituency of the country".
The dark horse of the electoral battle could, however, be Bijit Saikia, the once powerful industry minister in the Hiteswar Saikia cabinet, who, miffed at being denied a Congress ticket joined the AITMC.
"I had always been a loyal Congress supporter, but they ignored my contribution and as the people of my constituency wanted me to serve them, I joined the AITMC which also had its origin in the Congress," Saikia said.
Assam state unit President Ranjit Dutta, sitting MLA from Bihali, was locked in a direct contest with Congress' Pallab Lochan Das and though initially it appeared that the former would have a smooth sailing, the ruling party has now put up its full might behind the campaign for their candidate.
Das alleges that Dutta had hardly spent any money from his MLA development fund for the constituency, but said, ''If I win and the Congress returns to power, the entire face of the constituency will change for the better''.
In neighbouring Barchalla constituency with a predominant Nepali electorate, Assembly Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai of Congress was comfortably placed, though both the BJP's Ganesh Kumar Limbu and AGP's Ratul Kumar Nath were likely to offer some resistance in a triangular contest.
''The development work initiated by the Congress during the last 10 years of its rule will definitely help me to retain the seat,'' Rai said.
Dutta, on the other hand, refutes the allegations claiming the Congress felt threatened because it was obvious people in the state wanted a change and they would definitely give BJP a chance to change its destiny for the better.
Another prominent constitutency is Gohpur, represented by former education minister Ripun Borah, who was expelled by the Congress after he was arrested for allegedly attempting to bribe a CBI official in New Delhi.
Borah's wife Monika Bora, has been nominated by the Congress, and the former minister who claimed his arrest was a 'political conspiracy' is out to prove a point to his political adversaries and is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his wife's victory.
Dhekiajuli constituency, with a predominant adivasi tea tribe and Bodo population, will witness multi-pronged contest with AGP's Apurba Kumar Bhattacharjee having an edge over his rivals, Habul Chakraborty, BJP's Batash Orang, BPF's Bibek Bora and CPM Junuma Boro.
Dhekiajuli's sitting Congress MLA, Bhimananda Tanti has been shifted to neighbouring Rangapara, also with a predominant adivasi population, where the sitting BJP MLA Abhijeet Hazarika was expelled from the party for voting for the Congress in the last Rajya Sabha polls in the state.
The constituency with ten candidates in the fray will witness a multi-cornered contest where besides Tanti, BJP's Niranjan Nath, AGP's Bijoy Tiru, AIUDF' Sahidur Rahman, CPM's Robin Tamuli and JMM's Karan Minz would be the key players.
Firebrand sitting AGP MLA Padma Hazarika, who had won polling a high 53.54 per cent in 2006, has an edge over his six rivals with veteran Congressman Hiranya Bora and BJP's Rajesh Sarmah likely to give him some opposition.
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