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Lion vs tiger in Barpeta

- Candidates compare themselves to big cats

Guwahati, April 10: The tiger or lion is not their party symbol. Nor has wildlife conservation found prominence in their manifestos. Yet candidates in Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to the polls on April 24, are busy comparing themselves to these majestic animals and their “ferocity”.

“I am a tiger, and this time five tigers from Assam will go to Delhi,” announced Sirajuddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), at a rally yesterday at Sarukhetri, about 20km from Barpeta.

Sirajuddin is the brother of perfume baron and AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal.

AGP candidate Phani Bhushan Choudhury was quick to retort, saying that if Sirajuddin was a tiger, he was a lion. “It will soon be clear who is stronger — a tiger or a lion,” Choudhury said at the AGP party office at Barpeta, hours after Sirajuddin’s comment.

Choudhury, who is a legislator from neighbouring Bongaigaon Assembly constituency, perhaps could have also chosen to compare himself to an elephant, the AGP’s party symbol.

The Congress, which currently holds Barpeta constituency, threw in another animal analogy into the fray. “Tigers don’t change their territory. If he (Sirajuddin) is a tiger, why has he come from Hojai (in Nagaon) to contest elections here? He is not a tiger but a jackal,” said Assam cabinet minister Nilamoni Sen Deka today, while campaigning for sitting MP Ismail Hussain, at Howly, a Muslim dominated constituency situated about 10km from Barpeta.

“Our candidate will walk like a rhino and an elephant and so he will have the last laugh,” claimed Sen Deka.

Hussain, however, preferred to stay away from animal comparisons. “I am not an animal,” he said.

The voters seemed to be a little confused with these analogies. “What is going on? They should talk about our problems instead of who is a tiger or a lion. Nobody seems to be serious about our biggest problems like the NRC update, rehabilitation of flood and erosion victims or bad roads,” Mokbul Hussain, a voter of Howly, told The Telegraph.

The Congress has retained Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency since 1999 but the AIUDF’s surge in the 2011 Assembly polls (when it won four out of 10 seats) means this year’s elections will be more competitive. Hussain and Sirajuddin will be the two main players, given the fact that AGP and BJP have put up separate candidates.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, AGP-BJP candidate Bhupen Ray came in second but this time, votes will get divided between the BJP’s Chandra Mohan Patowary and AGP’s Phani Bhushan Choudhury. The Trinamul Congress has fielded Pervez Ali Ahmed, son of former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

Altogether 14,18, 658 voters will decide the fate of 15 candidates in the fray for Barpeta Lok Sabha seat.


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