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'Tin Bigha Zamin' and Assam's Assembly Election 2021

A total of 47 Assembly constituencies spanned across 12 districts will go to polls in the first phase on March 27.

A total of 47 Assembly constituencies spanned across 12 districts will go to polls in the first phase on March 27.

With a paltry Rs 30,000 in his account, Hareshwar Burman has mortgaged his three bighas of inherited farm land for election expenses to take on BJP.

Pitched for the second phase of the election in Assam, it’s a last minute electioneering for Hareshwar Burman. High on confidence quotient, Burman is leaving no stones unturned to register a victory for Raijor Dol, a political party he represents from the Ragiya constituency in the Kamrup district of Assam.

With a paltry Rs 30,000 in his account as his declared asset in his affidavit provided to the election commission and a half broken cycle, modern day electioneering is fast slipping out of his reach. To manage things at least with the bare minimum, Hareshwar Burman has mortgaged his three bighas of inherited farm land.

“I had to put my agricultural fields on mortgage. Ours is an interior place, I could manage only one and a half lakhs of rupees from it. If anyone is contesting an election today, politically he needs a minimum of Rs 12 lakhs to put forward a fair contest. Couple of my friends have supported me financially, unfortunately that too is not providing enough. If needed, I might as well sell the field to fund my elections. I need to win it at any cost to prove myself and keep the hopes of my party alive,” says Burman.

An economics graduate, Buram is a social worker for the past 40 years. His agriculture graduate son is engaged with a private firm while his only daughter is married. As documented officially, Burman’s wife has around Rs 50,000 in her account. He also has a fishery on 1.5 bighas of land which helps in sustaining his family. “The rice I get through the Food Security Act scheme is enough and the rest I manage,” adds Burman.

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“My constituency has around 25 villages and 226 booths. If I engage 50 salaried booth workers I need money for that too,” says Burman.

Situated some 58 kilometres away from Guwahati, Rangiya is represented by Babesh Kalita, the Minister for Irrigation, Assam in the present government. The constituency is demographically represented by 38% minority and is one factor that hints that things this time might just get a tad tight for the BJP.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha Election, Rangia Assembly Constituency witnessed a polling percentage of 54.25%, while it was 40.72% in 2016 .The last election witnessed, Bhabesh Kalita of the Bharatiya Janata party don the winners cap with 58,353 votes outsmarting Ghanashyam Kalita of the Indian National Congress by 26,286 votes.

In his mid-sixties, Hareshwar Burman joined Raihor Dol in October 2020 and is optimistic of defeating BJP by a huge margin this time.

“People of Ragiya who shall vote on April 1, will exercise their franchise to avenge the unlawful arrest of Akhil Gogoi. The cruel memories of the anti CAA agitation is fresh in the voters conscience and they shall avail this opportunity to give an answer. Raijor Dol is a political outcome of a mass movement, it’s the voice of the oppressed and their ethnocentric enthusiasm. This election shall be the deciding set to level scores,” says Burman.

Raijor Dol, a political offshoot of the anti-CAA protest in the State, is contesting the 2021 elections sans being a registered political party. Its firebrand leader and President of the party, Akhil Gogoi, is contesting from Sibsagar of Upper Assam. Gogoi, who has been in jail for the last 15 months, is contesting from the hospital bed at Guwahati Medical College owing to his health condition. Gogoi is booked under UAPA by the NIA and has charges of sedition and war against the nation in his role during the anti-CAA agitation. While Akhil has written several letters to his voters from the hospital room of the Guwahati Medical College Hospital, his campaign which ended on Thursday 6pm in Sibsagar was led by his 80 years old ailing mother, Priyada Gogoi.

“I firmly believe that Sibsagar shall help bring my son out of confinement. He is not keeping well and I am old too. His problem is that he cannot restrain himself where there is injustice,” says Priyada Gogoi.

Hareshwar Burman, who joined the Naxalite movement in 1976 inspired by the Janata movement, has spent time in North Bengal and north banks of Assam.

“I have been with Bhaskar Nandy and Santosh Rana for several years and was involved with the organisation from close quarters. However, in the later part I realised the futility of Naxalism in India and decided to move out voluntarily,” says Burman.

A total of 47 Assembly constituencies spanned across 12 districts will go to polls in the first phase on March 27. As many as 267 candidates from different political parties including independents are in the fray. For the ruling BJP, key candidates in the fray for the first phase elections are Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal from Majuli constituency, Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami from Jorhat, cabinet ministers Ranjit Dutta from Behali, Naba Kumar Doley from Jonai and Sanjoy Kishan from Tinsukia. As far as NDA ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is concerned, its president and minister in the BDA government, Atul Bora, is contesting from Bokakhat and Keshab Mahanta from Kaliabor are trying their fortune in the first phase.

For the Congress, Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Ripun Bora is contesting from Gohpur, Debabrata Saikia from Nazira, and party secretary Bhupen Borah is contesting from Bihpuria. Former ministers in the Congress government, Bharat Narah is contesting from Naoboicha, Pranatee Phukan from Naharkatiya and Rakibul Hussain is trying his luck from the Samaguri constituency.

President of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) Lurinjyoti Gogoi is contesting from two seats – Duliajan and Naharkatiya. There are 81,09,815 registered voters in the first phase polls. Of these, 40,77,210 are males, 40,32,481 are females and 124 are transgenders.

first published:March 26, 2021, 13:26 IST