Silchar, Feb. 5: The Congress high command announced the name of Mandira Roy, 54, wife of state minister Goutam Roy, as party candidate for Algapur Assembly bypoll this afternoon, just a day ahead of the deadline for filing of nomination papers.
Mandira, who has no previous political experience, bagged the nomination reportedly because of some concerted lobbying by her husband and public health engineering minister, both in New Delhi and Dispur.
The names of two other contestants have also been announced today — Masud Ahmed Choudhury, 28, from AGP and the son of former Hailakandi MLA Sahabuddin Choudhury and veteran BJP leader Sashadhar Paul, a businessman.
On the other hand, AIUDF named Mehbubul Hassan Laskar as their candidate for the bypoll this evening.
Poll analysts said unless last-minute polarisation of votes takes place, Mandira Roy is bound to face tough times. The Congress has always netted a big slice of votes from Muslim voters, which even helped Roy’s son Rahul to win the Algapur seat in the 2006 Assembly election. However, Rahul lost the seat after a tough fight with Shahidul Alam in the 2011 polls.
Rahul, 36, did not bag a nomination this time as his father reportedly pulled the strings for his wife, as he is peeved with his son for an alleged extramarital affair with a girl from Uttar Pradesh.
Contrary to earlier speculation, nobody from the family of former AGP minister and four-time MLA Shahidul Alam Choudhury could get nomination from the party. According to party sources, it was more or less sure till Sunday that one of Choudhury’s nephews, Kamrul Islam, who is a lawyer, would bag the nomination from this seat. But Kamrul reportedly developed cold feet at the last moment and expressed his reluctance to contest.
But the moot question is whether Mandira Roy, a political greenhorn, could wrest the seat just riding on the back of the influence of her husband in the Muslim-dominated district of Hailakandi.
Judging by the past results in the Algapur seat, a sizeable number of Muslim votes are likely to go to AIUDF and the AGP could rope in a large number of the remaining Muslim ballots from Shahidul loyalists’ making it difficult for the Congress to succeed.
The agrarian Algapur constituency has 1,30,000 voters and will go to polls on February 24.