| Sarbananda Sonowal at Natun Kamalabari Xatra in Majuli on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, April 2: Majuli, one of the nine constituencies of Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat, became a hotbed of electioneering today with regional bigwigs of three parties — two chief ministers, a former chief minister and a former MP — descending on the river island to woo its three lakh-odd electorate.
In the midst of all this, two members of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti were injured when police caned the group’s activists who were trying to disrupt Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s campaign.
The first to arrive was Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, accompanied by former AGP chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AGP working president Atul Bora and the party’s candidate for Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat Hari Prasad Dihingia.
Rio, who will campaign for the AGP in Assam for two days, started from Garmur, the sub-divisional headquarters of Majuli. He urged the people to vote for the regional party as “only a strong regional force can solve the problems of the Northeast”.
Rio is the convener of the North East Regional Political Forum that comprises, among others, the AGP, Hill States Peoples Democratic Party, Manipur People’s Party, Mizo National Front, People’s Party of Arunachal and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura.
“We will be able to do much if all the regional parties in the Northeast unite as we are best suited to understand the problems peculiar to this region. I will not only work for Nagaland but also for Assam and other places in the Northeast,” Rio, himself a candidate from Nagaland, said.
Rio, “disenchanted with the UPA’s neglect of Nagaland”, has allied himself with the NDA and hopes to get a cabinet berth if BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi comes to power.
Mahanta outlined the party’s manifesto and vowed to safeguard the island from erosion and floods if Dihingia was voted to power.
By afternoon, Rio had also campaigned at Nowboicha in Dhemaji district, Laluk in Lakhimpur district and Duliajan in Dibrugarh district before returning to Dimapur. He will return tomorrow for the campaign, Mahanta said.
|Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta wave during a rally in Dibrugarh district on Wednesday. (PTI)
Simultaneously, BJP candidate for the seat, Sarbananda Sonowal, did a round of the island, holding small roadside meetings. Sonowal is the party’s state president and a former AGP MP.
Sonowal, who was on a daylong tour to the island, welcomed the KMSS appeal to the people to consider other political parties as an alternative to the Congress. He told The Telegraph that this would encourage BJP workers.
He alleged that the Congress has always ignored the problems of the people of Majuli, the capital of Assamese culture and civilisation, and made false promises to them.
He said the BJP would continue its struggle to place Majuli on the world heritage site map and would not rest till it acquired the status.
Sonowal started his campaign at Natun Kamalabari Satra, where he sought the blessings of Xatradhikar Narayan Dev Goswami. He also visited Uttar Kamalabari Xatra and then attended five public rallies in the island.
Gogoi campaigned at Kamalabari, Majuli’s main town. Barely had he begun, nearly hundred KMSS protesters, waving black flags and shouting slogans, stopped the meeting for about 10 minutes before police dispersed them.
The Assam chief minister said “Gogoi magic” would work better than “Modi magic” as Modi, unlike him, “worked only for the rich and not for the poor”. Gogoi was accompanied by Majuli legislator and water resources minister Rajiv Lochan Pegu.
While there was a huge turnout for the AGP and the Congress, a Majuli resident, Punya Saikia, said half of them had turned up to watch the helicopters.