|Gaurav Gogoi with his mother Dolly at a rally in Golaghat and (below)
Tarun Gogoi dances with local artistes during the rally. Pictures by UB Photos
Think Kaliabor, think Batadrava, Brahmaputra, Kaziranga. Think Kaliabor, think encroachment, erosion, rhino-poaching.
While the first three mirror a glorious history, opulence of nature and a conservation success story, the latter cause concern and become major poll planks in the campaign for Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency, which covers parts of Nagaon, Golaghat and Jorhat districts in central Assam.
Kaliabor’s glory can be traced to the times of the Mahabharat. Legend says Rukmini and Krishna (Koliya Krishna) had rested under a banyan (bor) tree here, giving Kaliabor its name. Borbhakati, 10km from Kaliabor sub-divisional headquarters, which is 55km from Nagaon district headquarters, still has a young banyan tree, which is believed to be a shoot of the original tree under which Krishna had rested with Rukmini.
When sixteenth century cultural icon Srimanta Xankardeb was working at Batadrava, 16km from Nagaon town, to popularise his namdharma (Vaishnavite culture), Koliabhumura, a representative of the Ahom king, had aspired to build a wooden bridge over the Brahmaputra to connect with bor (greater) Asom.
When Kamakhya in Nilachal was in danger from invaders, it was Silghar hillock near Kaliabor town that was chosen to establish a replica.
This election, Kaliabor’s claim to fame is that it marks the political debut of Gaurav Gogoi, son of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
But must Kaliabor live only in the glory of its history, wondered Pravat Sarma of Borbhakati. He alleged that there has been no development here since Independence because of lack of political will.
Kaliabor, which was carved out of Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency in 1965, has been with the Gogoi family for 21 years since it first went to polls in 1967. It was represented by Tarun Gogoi from 1991 till 1996 and again from 1998 till 2004. Since then, it has been represented by the chief minister’s younger brother, Dip Gogoi.
The constituency was held by Congress MPs Bedabrata Tanti and Bishnu Prasad from 1967 till 1984, when it was won by AGP’s Bhadreswar Tanti. He represented it till 1991, when it was wrested back for the Congress by Gogoi. Keshab Mahanta of the AGP won it from the Congress in 1996 for two years. Since 1998, it has been with the Congress.
The political debut of Gaurav has made Kaliabor one of the most watched battles of Election 2014 in Assam.
Things are, however, changing rapidly in the constituency, which has been a Congress stronghold since its birth. The party is losing its base among the religious minorities and tea tribes, who hold about 35 per cent and 30 per cent votes respectively.
According to records, Kaliabor has 14,48,311 voters, of whom 7,48,560 are men. It has 12,267 ‘D’ or doubtful voters.
In the 2009 parliamentary elections, Congress candidates had polled minimum votes in the four Assembly constituencies of Rupohihat, Dhing, Kaliabor and Batadroba under Nagaon district. However, it increased its vote percentage in the five Assembly constituencies of Golaghat district, which booked Dip Gogoi’s flight to New Delhi for a second term.
The Kaliabor Lok Sabha seat has 10 Assembly constituencies, five each in Nagaon and Golaghat districts. Four minority-dominated constituencies in Nagaon — Batadroba, Samaguri, Rupohihat and Dhing are represented respectively by Gautom Bora (Congress), Rakibul Hussain (Congress), Mujibur Rahman (AIUDF) and Aminul Islam (AIUDF). Kaliabor Assembly segment has been with the AGP ever since it was formed. All the five Golaghat constituencies are represented by the Congress.
It remains to be seen whether voters welcome or shun the Gogoi scion, who faces 12 rivals, including AGP heavyweight and former Lakhimpur MP Arun Sarma, AIUDF candidate Bijoy Kumar Tiru and BJP leader Mrinal Saikia.
Said Prasenjit Dahal, a schoolteacher, “Frankly speaking, unlike Tarun Gogoi, neither his brother Dip nor his son Gaurav are efficient leaders. They appear before Kaliabor voters as members of Gogoi family. The party gets an MP and in return Kaliabor people miss a good leader.”
“The little boy who is known only for his chief minister father is too weak to contest with our Bijoy Tiru. This time I will campaign more in Kaliabor to make Tiru a winner,” AIUDF leader Badruddin Ajmal had said in Dhing recently.
But forest minister Rakibul Hussain is confident that nothing can come in the way of Gaurav’s victory. “Gaurav will win with a very big margin and nobody can be a factor for him in Kaliabor this time.”