The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong beats backlash fear in polls

Oct. 3: Congress fears of a voter rebound against the anti-Bihari backlash turned out to be misplaced as the ruling party made a virtual sweep of the civic polls in the state today.

The party not only won the seats in its traditional bastions but even stormed the Opposition stronghold.

The results have come as a relief to the ruling party, specially in view of the perceived anti-Congress mood among the voters in the wake of the violence against the Bihari community in several pockets of the state.

With victories in 281 seats in 54 municipal boards and town committees all over the state, the Congress’ share of wards is 53 per cent while the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) managed just 20 per cent of the seats.

In Guwahati too, the Congress emerged as the single-largest party though it fell short of an absolute majority by just two seats. Of the 57 wards where elections were held, the Congress won 27.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi lost no time in terming the Congress success as a “victory of secular, democratic and nationalistic ideals of our people against the forces of regionalism, parochialism and communalism”.

Confident after the mandate given by the urban voters, Gogoi today came closest to terming the recent violence against the Biharis as “parochialism”.

In Upper Assam, the Congress made a clean sweep in four out of the five districts. Elections in Tinsukia were postponed due to the outbreak of recent violence.

In the chief minister’s home town of Jorhat, the Congress bagged 11 wards out of 19, while arch rival AGP clinched six seats and the BJP two.

Mariani town, however, went against the tide, as the five town committee wards went to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

In neighbouring Golaghat district, the ruling party secured 11 out of a total of 13 municipality seats. The BJP and an Independent won one seat each. Of the 10 seats in the Dergaon town committee in the same district, Congress bagged seven while AGP got two and Independent one.

Of the total 14 wards in Sivasagar District Municipality Board, the Congress won eight and the rest went to a local party, the Jatiya Akya Mancha.

In transport minister Anjan Dutta’s constituency of Amguri, the Congress had to be happy with five seats in the 10 wards. The AGP got the remaining ones.

Of the 13 seats in PWD minister Sarat Borkotoky’s constituency of Sonari, the ruling party bagged 11 out of 13 seats.

In PCC president Paban Singh Ghatowar’s home town Dibrugarh, the Congress bagged 12 of the 22 seats, while the BJP won five. The AGP, along with two Independent candidates, bagged two seats each. In Naharkatia, the Congress won three of the total four seats.

However, the party suffered a setback in Chabua with the BJP bagging three of the four seats and the AGP getting one.

In Digboi, the Congress made a clean sweep by bagging all the eight seats. In Sonari, the Congress got 11 out of 13 seats while two were bagged by the BJP. In Moran, the Congress got four seats out of six while one each was shared by the AGP and an Independent. In Margherita, the Congress bagged two out of four seats while the AGP and the BJP got one each.

The Congress also swept the civic polls for Silchar Municipality, winning 22 of the 28 seats. The counting of the December 1 poll was conducted today under elaborate security.

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