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BJP leader Rameswar Teli to quit politics

Guwahati, May 23: Two-time BJP legislator from Duliajan, Rameswar Teli, had decided to quit politics after losing in the Assembly elections.

Teli, who lost to Congress candidate Amiya Gogoi, told The Telegraph today that he was so disillusioned at the “free play of money and muscle-power in the elections” that he does not want to be in politics any longer.

The 39-year-old, who is known for his clean image, is an important leader of the party from the tea community and was the deputy leader of the BJP Legislature Party. Teli’s decision to quit politics could be a major blow to the BJP in Upper Assam.

Earlier, AGP working president Phani Bhushan Choudhury had declared that he would not contest the elections next time, although unlike many of the other party candidates, he had won from Bongaigaon. The results this time have left both the AGP and BJP shattered.

“I have taken the decision as my family wants me to quit politics. My family members, particularly my mother, don’t want me to be in politics since many of our neighbours, who are Congress supporters, have stated treating us as their enemies,” Teli said.

He said after the election results were declared, a group of Congress supporters pelted stones and threw firecrackers at his house at Duliajan’s Tipling Purana Ghat locality in Dibrugarh district.

“I had won two consecutive elections from Duliajan but I had never harassed my political opponents nor considered them my enemies. I had always taken the elections in the right spirit,” Teli said.

Accusing Congress of distributing money to voters, Teli said he had realised in a bitter way that candidates like him, without money and muscle power, stand no chance of winning elections.

“Even a section of voters expect the candidates to pay them. I could not win support of many organisations, including student bodies, as I couldn’t pay donations. As many as 42 Bihu committees came to me for donations and all of them expected me to contribute nothing less than Rs 10,000, only because I am contesting elections. It was not possible for me to meet their demands and that cost me a few thousands votes,” he said.

“Politics is for moneyed people. Honest people have no place in it. Considering all these, I had decided to quit politics,” he rued.

Teli, whose father was a driver, is the first member of his family to make a foray into politics. He was a leader of the Tea Tribe Students’ Union before joining the BJP in 2000.

After Phani Bhushan Choudhury of the AGP, Teli is the second casualty of the elections from the Opposition camp.

Soon after the AGP bit the dust in the Assembly polls, Choudhury — who won the Bongaigaon seat for the six straight term — announced his decision not to contest in future elections because of the dismal performance of the regional party. “We surely misread the pulse and mind of the people of Assam and hence this humiliating defeat,” Choudhury said.

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