Nagaon MLA files papers for Lok Sabha seat
The BJP has dropped sitting MP and Union minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain and replaced him with Nagaon MLA Rupak Sarmah for the Nowgong Lok Sabha seat.
Gohain, a four-time MP, has represented the constituency since 1999.
Sarmah’s name was finalised at a meeting of BJP’s central election committee held under the presidentship of Amit Shah in Delhi late on Monday night.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari attended the meeting.
Gohain had earlier announced that he would not contest the election because of a rape case pending against him at a Nagaon court but was back in contention after Gauhati High Court quashed the rape case on Monday. He even collected nomination papers on Monday in the hope of getting the party ticket.
The high court quashed criminal proceedings against Gohain in the rape case after the alleged victim testified in court that the FIR was lodged because of a misunderstanding and the matter had been amicably settled.
This time the BJP has denied tickets to five of its seven sitting MPs in Assam. They are Tezpur MP Ram Prasad Sarmah, Gauhati MP Bijoya Chakravarty, Jorhat MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and Mangaldoi MP Ramen Deka.
Following the announcement of his name, Sarmah filed his nomination papers in Nagaon on Tuesday. He was accompanied by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, health minister and Neda convener Himanta Biswa Sarma, state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and AGP president and agriculture minister Atul Bora at the time of filing his nomination papers.
“I am honoured to be nominated as the BJP candidate for this prestigious constituency, which is known as the cultural capital of Assam. My sincere gratitude to the party’s central and state leadership, workers, supporters and well-wishers for believing in me and having faith in me,” Sarmah said.
“The surge of BJP is visible all over and the air is filled with exuberance and positivity,” Himanta said in Nagaon.
Gohain was conspicuous by his absence when Sarmah filed his nomination, fuelling speculation that Sarmah may not get the sitting MP’s wholehearted support in the elections. Sarmah had visited Gohain’s residence in Nagaon in the morning but failed to meet him as he was not in.
“I went to meet him and seek his blessings but he was not at home. I will need his blessings and support since he has represented the constituency for the last 20 years and done a lot for the constituency,” Sarmah said.
“I am expecting his full cooperation since he himself had told the media that he would support whoever the party nominates from Nowgong,” he added.
Sarmah is up against Congress candidate and former cabinet minister Pradyut Bordoloi, who also filed his nomination on Tuesday. Like Sarmah, Bordoloi was accompanied by hundreds of supporters while filing his nomination.