Cong, BJP to slug it out in 6 Dibrugarh seats
Upper Assam's Dibrugarh district is poised to witness a huge battle in its six Assembly constituencies.
Guwahati: Upper Assam's Dibrugarh district is poised to witness a battle royal in its six Assembly constituencies between the Congress and the BJP with the saffron party making all-out efforts to increase its tally in the Congress bastion. The Congress enjoyed predominance in the constituencies of Dibrugarh, Moran, Lahowal, Duliajan, Tingkhong and Naharkatia for decades, courtesy the support of the dominant tea tribe which comprises 35 per cent of the electorate.
Besides the tea tribe, the district, which has the largest area covered by tea gardens, has influential sections of Ahoms, Sonowal Kacharis, Chutiya, Muttock and Moran communities who traditionally play decisive roles in elections.
Since 2001, the BJP and AGP have been making steady inroads into these areas with the former wresting the Dibrugarh seat in 2006 from the Congress which also lost both Duliajan and Tingkhong seats in the 2001 and 2006 polls. The BJP was successful in winning the prestigious Dibrugarh seat with its candidate Prashanta Phukan defeating the two-time winning Congress candidate Dr Kalyan Kumar Gogoi by a mere 177 votes and the latter, who has been renominated by the party, is making all-out efforts to regain the seat this time around.
The Congress party was leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that Gogoi wins back the seat, but for BJP, too, retaining the seat has become a prestige issue with star campaigners concentrating their efforts in Dibrugarh and the
neighbouring Upper Assam constituencies.
"We will definitely win in Dibrugarh and also in several other Upper Assam districts as we have brought in development in the area over the years," Assam Pradesh Congress president Bhubaneswar Kalita said. The Congress also regained the Dibrugarh parliamentary constituency from the BJP with veteran Congress leader Paban Singh Ghatowar defeating Sarbananda Sonowal, who had won the
seat in 2004 on an AGP ticket, but prior to the Assembly polls joined the BJP.
The BJP was upbeat about Sonowal joining the party as he had made considerable efforts to ensure the party's entry into the tea belt and also in the tribal-dominated areas. "The Congress has no chance in the area as despite being
richly endowed with tea, oil and other resources, it has lagged behind in development leading to rise in militancy in the area," Sonowal pointed out.
The Dibrugarh Assembly constituency has eight candidates, including a lone Independent woman candidate Sima Ghosh, in the fray, but the actual contest is likely to be between BJP's Phukan and Congress's Gogoi.
In neighbouring Moran constituency, Congress candidate Jibontara Ghatowar was making a bid to enter the Assembly for the third consecutive term and was locked in a triangular contest with AGP's Sunil Rajkonwar and BJP's woman candidate Swarna Saikia Deori.
Ghatowar, wife of veteran Lok Sabha MP and prominent tea tribe leader Paban Singh Ghatowar, had polled a high 48.82 per cent of votes in the last polls and has a clear edge over her rivals. Ghatowar points out that she herself is from the tea tribe community and understands the pain and suffering of her own people who will also repose their 'faith in me as they know they can always approach me with their problems'.
Another prominent Congress candidate is the outgoing Assembly's Deputy Speaker Pranati Phukan from Naharkatiya who is making a bid to enter the house for the fourth consecutive term but her position is slightly shaky following allegations
of corruption against her by the opposition.
"The opposition parties have not been able to bring any specific case of corruption, but was indulging in mere mud-slinging," Phukan alleged. Phukan is engaged in a tough triangular contest with BJP's Pradip Buragohain and AGP's Naren Sonowal among eight candidates in the fray.
Assam Water Resources Minister Prithbi Majhi, bidding to enter the house for the fifth consecutive term, is also locked in a triangular contest with AGP's Terosh Gowalla and BJP's Ranjit Konwar in Lahowal Assembly constituency. Majhi appears to have an advantage over his rivals mainly due to the fact that he belongs to the tea tribe community though the AGP and BJP candidates were expected to give him some unnerving moments.
In Duliajan, the sitting BJP MLA Rameswar Teli was locked in a triangular contest with AGP's Hiteswar Phukan and Congress's Amiya Gogoi. Gogoi, a three-time MLA since 1985 and a minister in the Hiteswar Saikia government, lost the seat in 2001 and was denied ticket in 2006, but was making all-out effort to wrest the seat from the BJP and make up for lost times. Teli, however, is not going to let go without a fight as the constituency has several oilfields.
In Tingkhong, Anup Phukan, the sole sitting MLA of the AGP from the district since 2001, is locked in a direct contest with two-time former Congress MLA Etuwa Munda, though the BJP has also fielded a candidate, Ranjan Bikash Buragohain. Munda claimed that the AGP was a spent force and the Congress was returning to power with the people of Tingkhong realising that it was better to vote for a member of the ruling party which has made his victory a foregone conclusion.
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