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Cong list out for phase I rural poll

Guwahati, Jan. 1: The Assam PCC today formally released the list of nominees for 160 of 162 zilla parishad constituencies for the first phase of the panchayat elections on January 30 with leaders claiming that the party would bag between 70 and 80 per cent of the seats.

There are in altogether 420 zilla parishad constituencies in the state. “The remaining two nominees for the remaining constituencies will be finalised anytime,” Assam PCC general secretary Bichitra Choudhury said. The polls will be held in three phases.

The Congress is pinning its hopes on Upper Assam, its bastion, to offset the likely reverses it might face in lower Assam. In the Assembly elections, too, the Congress won over 50 of the 78 seats from Upper Assam and the two hill districts.

Party insiders said the selection of zilla parishad candidates which was done by chief minister Tarun Gogoi, PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita and DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar passed off smoothly. They added that wherever senior leaders had been given due importance in selection of candidates in the absence of MLAs and MPs there has been less resentment.

“There has been 20 per cent resentment but that too could have been resolved had the party leadership taken a little more care. But overall we should be winning around 70 per cent of the seats or even more if we can launch a concerted effort. We are bullish about Upper Assam, especially from Tinsukia to Golaghat,” senior party legislator and former transport minister Anjan Dutta told this correspondent.

The first phase will see election in seven districts — Sivasagar, Golaghat, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Nagaon.

Tomorrow is the last date for filing nominations for the first phase.

Sources said only one Assam PCC office-bearer (secretary Balika Pegu) had sought nomination from Golaghat but had failed to make the cut because she had no backers at the meeting though she is a “worthy” aspirant.

The demand for Congress tickets is huge in almost all districts, barring the Sixth Schedule districts, so much so that senior leaders are having a tough time coping with the demand.

Yesterday’s protest at Rajiv Bhawan, sources said, to remove the Hajo block president and make senior party leader Kirip Chaliha, the “all-in-all” during ticket distribution, reflects the pressure on senior leaders who have to be consulted in constituencies where there are no MLAs or MPs.

Though the Assam PCC decided to put the Kamrup district president in-charge of the Hajo Block Congress Committee till the election are over, sources said the party leadership would face more such protests in the days to come.

“What is an election without protests and dharnas? This shows the interest in the poll and our popularity,” a leader said.

This view, however, is not shared by those in decision-making positions in the party.