| Congress supporters take out a bike rally in Mariani on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, March 26: The Congress has lined up back-to-back poll rallies this week with its vice-president Rahul Gandhi scheduled to address the first at Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur tomorrow morning amid tight security because of the 12-hour bandh called by the NDFB (Songbijit) in the district.
This is the second meeting that Rahul will address in the state amid a bandh. The other one was held here on February 25 amid a 12-hour bandh called by the KMSS over the self-immolation of its member, Pranab Boro, the previous day.
Boro had set himself on fire in front of the state secretariat on GS Road in protest against the Tarun Gogoi government’s alleged discriminatory policy of land allotment in the city.
After the Sonitpur rally, which falls under Tezpur constituency, Rahul will address another at Chaulkhowa in Dibrugarh district.
The AICC vice-president’s visit will be followed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s rally at Mahmara in Sivasagar district under Jorhat constituency on March 29.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will cap the high-profile visits by making her first poll-related appearance in Assam at Lakhimpur on Sunday to campaign for Union minister of state Ranee Narah.
Party insiders said the choice of venues is significant because the party nominees are facing the heat from within, barring sitting MLA and AICC secretary Bhupen Kumar Borah, who is contesting from Tezpur constituency.
| Workers prepare the stage at Chaulkhowa in Dibrugarh district on Wednesday for the rally. Picture by UB Photos
The prospects of Bijoy Kumar Handique and Ranee Narah, contesting from Jorhat and Lakhimpur respectively, are likely to get a boost following the visit by the party’s leading lights.
“Things have started improving for the Congress nominees in all the three seats and will improve further once the central leaders address the rallies and talk to local leaders,” an insider said.
In Sonitpur, Rahul will address the rally at Kamala Kanta Khetra in front of Biswanath Chariali College, about 70km from Tezpur town and 250km from the state capital.
“Rahul did mention Pranab Boro at the Guwahati rally on February 25. Since the NDFB has termed Rahul anti-Bodo and has given the bandh call, he might touch the separate state issue at his rallies tomorrow,” a source said.
Rajiv Bhawan regulars here said party leaders and workers from neighbouring districts would also attend the rallies to be addressed by the trio. Rahul’s rally at Biswanath Chariali is primarily aimed at wooing the minority voters in the area. With AIUDF deciding not to contest, the Congress wants to ensure that the Muslim votes shift to the party.
“Borah got a boost once the AGP decided not to field its former president Brindaban Goswami and the AIUDF decided to support Independent candidate Mani Kumar Subba,” a party insider said.
Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor and Tezpur go to the polls in the first phase on April 7. Assam has 14 seats and the Congress is hoping to better its 2009 tally of seven seats.
Sanjukta Parasar, Sonitpur superintendent of police, told The Telegraph that the police have made all possible arrangements to ensure a secure and smooth rally.
Congress workers and six sitting party MLAs under Tezpur constituency are going all out to make Rahul’s rally a big success.
People from Bihpuria to Dhekiajuli Assembly constituencies will participate in the rally, Congress sources said.