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Rush for BJP tickets in Jorhat

- Party sends seven names to Delhi

Jorhat, Feb. 18: Be it the Narendra Modi magic or a perceived window of opportunity thrown open by division in the AGP, BJP ticket-seekers for the Lok Sabha elections for Jorhat seat have more than doubled as they sniff victory.

The party has sent a list of seven aspiring candidates to the high command this year.

Last year, only three candidates had sought tickets from the party for this prestigious seat, which has been a Congress bastion since 1991.

Former Union cabinet minister and veteran Congress leader Bijoy Krishna Handique has been winning the seat continuously for the last six terms since 1991.

It was only in 1985 that former AGP strongman, late Parag Chaliha, had won the seat.

Handique is the longest serving MP from the state. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1982 to 1986.

BJP sources said the party has the best chance of winning the Jorhat seat this time since people were “fed up with the corrupt Congress party”. Moreover, the sitting MP had advanced in age and “can no longer discharge his duty properly”.

“Call it the anti-incumbency factor, the BJP has the best chance of winning from Jorhat this year,” a party insider told The Telegraph.

Among the ticket seekers from the BJP are former state president and ex-MP from Mangaldoi, Narayan Borkotoky, former Assam Tea Tribes Students Association president Kamakhya Prashad Tasa, veteran BJP leaders Palit Bora, Mandira Baruah Chakraborty, Nabanita Handique, Suresh Saikia and youth leader Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.

Party sources said although seven names figured in the list, the toss-up would most likely be between Borkotoky and Tasa.

Although Borkotoky would be the first choice for the party given his vast experience, Tasa’s significant contribution towards the party making inroads into the tea community, which plays a crucial role in the constituency with its large number of tea gardens, might stand him in good stead.

“Tasa was instrumental in the defeat of Congress stalwart and present Dibrugarh Lok Sabha MP Pawan Singh Ghatowar (DoNER minister) in the 2004 elections as contesting on a BJP ticket he had eaten into the tea garden votes of the Congress party, which eventually led to the victory of the then AGP candidate Sarbananda Sonowal,” a party insider said.

Ghatowar, a former Asam Chah Mazdoor Sangha president, had been winning from Dibrugarh since 1991. Moreover, the Congress had never lost the seat since 1950.

Tasa, who hails from Jorhat and fought the elections from Jorhat Lok Sabha seat on BJP ticket in 2009, had however, lost to Handique.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and AGP had shared seats and the former had fielded its candidate from Jorhat.

Party sources said several leaders of the AGP from Jorhat are likely to join the BJP. In fact, a few AGP leaders, including a former minister and a district president, had resigned from the party a few days back.

They had also stated that they would support a non-Congress candidate for the ensuing elections.

“Given the scenario of a divided AGP and anti-incumbency against Congress, the BJP stands a very good chance of winning the Jorhat seat and hence, we have more aspiring candidates for our tickets this time,” the party insider said.