The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Diamond’ for Guwahati

Guwahati, March 10: The BJP’s “diamond” in the Northeast, Bhupen Hazarika, today confirmed that he would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Guwahati, ending speculation over the toss-up between his home town Tezpur and the capital.

“It is definite,” Hazarika told The Telegraph over telephone from his Mumbai residence. He quoted deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani as saying, “Guwahati is not just another seat. It is the gateway to Southeast Asia and we need a good candidate there.”

Hazarika joined the BJP last month, stunning the state and incurring the wrath of a cross-section of people and organisations, both political and otherwise.

Though the BJP was yet to officially announce Hazarika’s candidature for the prestigious seat, the singer-composer’s confirmation means that sitting Lok Sabha MP, Union minister of state for water resources Bijoya Chakraborty, will not be defending her seat this time.

Chakraborty was not available for comment. However, she had said last week, while avoiding a direct reply to whether she would willingly vacate the seat for Hazarika, “The party will give him (Hazarika) whichever seat he wants.”

Despite Tezpur being his hometown, Hazarika was said to be hesitant about contesting from the north bank town mainly because it has earned the reputation of being the stronghold of sitting Congress MP Mani Kumar Subba. Hazarika himself had hinted as much when he had said, though “I have acceptability among all sections of the people, Tezpur has changed over the years”.

Sources said the BJP was afraid of pitting Hazarika against Subba because a defeat at the hands of the Congress “moneybag” would be even more humiliating given the slew of unsavoury allegations that follow the lottery baron like a shadow.

“It will indeed be very humiliating for Hazarika to lose to Subba,” a source said. “It is difficult for any person to swallow it,” he added.

Hazarika skirted the Tezpur issue today, saying the decision to field him from Guwahati “is the wish of the party I belong to”.

Hazarika is likely to arrive in the state on March 16 to launch the party’s campaign. “Though the itinerary has not been fixed yet, I will hit the campaign trail very soon, starting with Guwahati.”

Hazarika said he would start composing songs especially for the elections “once I am on the road”.

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