| Assam PCC observer Pranati Phukan speaks at a news conference in Sivasagar on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Sivasagar, Jan. 23: He may have declared himself mentally and physically fit to contest elections but Jorhat MP Bijoy Krishna Handique will need more than that to get a ticket this time.
He faces the uphill task of getting past five other ticket aspirants for the Lok Sabha elections.
Supporters of the ticket aspirants from the constituency today met Assam PCC observer Pranati Phukan at Sivasagar and Jorhat, expressed their opinions and handed over memorandums in support of their candidates.
The PCC election committee on Tuesday decided to send observers to 11 of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state to interact with the party’s grassroots workers to identify “suitable” candidates for the ensuing general elections.
Besides Handique, youth leader Sameer Gogoi, general secretary of Assam Pradesh Mahila Congress Krishna Gogoi, president of Sivasagar district congress committee Tulsi Gogoi, former president of Sivasagar district Congress committee Purnananda Mohan and Niva Konwar, wife of Tripura governor Debananda Konwar, have applied for the party ticket from the Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency.
While most of the party workers, who had gathered at Sivasagar to meet the party observer, were seen raising slogans in support of youth leader Sameer Gogoi, the son of Speaker Pranab Gogoi, the scenario in Jorhat was different.
A majority of the party workers in Jorhat supported Handique and raised slogans in favour of their leader. However, a sizeable number of supporters of Sameer Gogoi and Krishna Gogoi was also present in Jorhat to meet the party observer and handed over memorandums in support of the two young ticket aspirants.
Speaking to this correspondent, Sameer Gogoi, who is a strong contender for the party ticket from Jorhat, said it was time for the veteran leaders to give way to the upcoming generations. Gogoi said his candidature has the support of Assam Pradesh Youth Congress.
Krishna Gogoi, daughter of former minister Tilok Gogoi, too, echoed Sameer in Jorhat. She said she had applied for the party ticket in the 2004 and 2009 general elections, too, and hoped that the party would consider her application.
Another ticket aspirant, Tulsi Gogoi, has advised Handique to retire in view of his age and health condition. “Handique has been contesting for six terms from the constituency since 1991. He has crossed 80 years now and it’s high time for him to take retirement from politics,” he said.
However, a section of the leaders of Jorhat district Congress committee still maintains faith in Handique and said he could continue for at least another term. Handique maintains that he is prepared to contest the 2014 general elections and would contest with the motto “continuity with change”.
Speaking to reporters in Sivasagar, party observer Pranati Phukan said the party would take the final decision of the candidate on the basis of the opinions expressed by the party workers.
“Six candidates have applied for the party ticket from Jorhat constituency and I will submit the report and the name of identified candidate to PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita and chief minister Tarun Gogoi on January 25. The election committee will hold a meeting on January 27 to prepare a list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. The list will then be sent to the AICC screening committee for final selection,” she said.
Handique won the 2009 elections by defeating the BJP’s Kamakhya Tasa by 71,541 votes.
In Dhubri, voting among the 15 aspirants from Congress party for the Dhubri seat was held at Rajiv Bhawan on Thursday. Altogether, 97 voters at various levels of the party cast their votes.
Assam food and supply minister Nazrul Islam was present as an observer in the voting. A sealed ballot box was taken to Assam PCC office in Guwahati where it would be opened in next week in its meeting.