For phase 2, old is gold for Cong

Four fresh faces in final list

By A STAFF REPORTER in Guwahati
  • Published 22.03.16
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HIMANTA CONFIDENT OF RIDING THE BJP WAVE

Himanta Biswa Sarma, accompanied by wife Riniki, en route to filing his nomination papers in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, March 21: The ruling Congress in Assam today reposed faith in most of its sitting MLAs from 57 constituencies for the second phase of elections on April 11, while throwing to the wolves a few candidates who are still wet behind the ears.

PCC president Anjan Dutta released the final list of party nominees for 57 of the 61 seats. The Congress has left the four remaining seats to its ally, the United People's Party.

The first phase of polls on April 4 will be for 65 seats.

The list includes four first-timers - former All Assam Students Union president Sankar Prasad Rai, former president of the All-Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union Biswajit Rai, former general secretary of the Post-Graduate Students' Union of Gauhati University, Niren Deka, and former president of the All Assam Minorities Students Union, Abdur Rahim Ahmed.

While Sankar Prasad Rai will face AGP veteran leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury in Bongaigaon, Deka, another former AASU leader, will be up against former Congress strongman and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma in Jalukbari. Rai had joined the Congress on the rebound after being denied a ticket by the BJP, which was his first port of call - albeit briefly - in his journey into politics.

"For both Rai and Deka, it will be a battle of nerves because Choudhury and Sarma have been winning elections continuously for the last three terms. But the party is confident of winning both the seats," a Congress insider said. The party has also gone with Biswajit Rai and Ahmed to win Bijni and Barpeta.

Sitting MLAs Robin Bordoloi and Hemanta Talukdar from Gauhati East and Gauhati West respectively have not got the nod this time.

Sources said the duo's below-par performance and fielding of strong candidates by the BJP in the two constituencies forced the party to look elsewhere and nominate young faces Bobeeta Sarma and Juri Sarma Bordoloi for the two seats.

Sitting MLA and former minister Akon Bora has, however, been re-nominated from Dispur.

The Congress has also given a ticket to young entrepreneur Pradyut Kumar Bhuyan from Nalbari constituency. It has nominated cabinet minister Bhumidhar Barman's son Diganta to contest from Barkhetry, bringing to an end the senior Barman's long and eventful political career.

Barring Bordoloi and Talukdar, most of the sitting MLAs and ministers feature in the final list.

Former AGP minister Zoii Nath Sarmah and sitting AIUDF legislator Sherman Ali Ahmed, who recently joined the Congress, were also accommodated to take the party's battles to Sipajhar and Baghbar constituencies respectively.

Sources said chief minister Tarun Gogoi is happy with the list approved by the high command as most of his chosen candidates have been accommodated.

Juri Sarma Bordoloi said, "It is a great opportunity for me to enter into public life with more responsibilities. I hope the people will bless me."

Several political heavyweights, including the BJP's Himanta Biswa Sarma, the AIUDF's Badruddin Ajmal, the AGP's Chandra Mohan Patowary and the BJP's Siddhartha Bhattacharjya, today filed their nominations to contest the second phase of polls in different parts of the state. Tomorrow is the last day for filing nominations.

Sarma, who was accompanied by nearly 1,000 supporters, told reporters soon after filing his paper that the BJP's wave would sweep away the Congress in the elections.

"It will be an another historic election in Assam next month," Sarma said.

Altogether 13 candidates filed their nominations in the three constituencies under Kokrajhar district today.

Dilip Nunisa, a former rebel leader, today dissolved the Dima Hasao Dol, which he headed, and joined the BJP, along with the other members.

Nunisa, former chairman of Dima Halam Daogah (now disbanded), had formed the Dima Hasao Dol in March 2013 and contested the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council polls the following May.

The party won three seats and subsequently two of the members joined BJP while the other joined the Congress.

The Kamrup (metro) district administration will put in place a web-based postal ballot tracking system to encourage and facilitate voters engaged in election duty to cast their vote. Voters applying for postal ballot through form 12 will get an SMS regarding the dispatch of the postal ballot paper and they will be able to track the receipt of the same through district website, kamrupmetro.in.

Additional reporting by Samsul Alam from Haflong and Preetam Brahma Choudhury from Kokrajhar