HAILAKANDI, April 17 - The Karimganj (SC reserved) Lok Sabha seat of South Assam’s Barak Valley is all set to witness a triangular contest among sitting AIUDF candidate Radheshyam Biswas, BJP’s Kripanath Mallah and Congress’ Swarup Das. Mallah is an MLA of Ratabari and the Deputy Speaker of the Assam Assembly. The constituency will go to polls tomorrow. There are 14 candidates in the fray. Eight Independent candidates are also contesting in the seat. Besides three major candidates, Trinamul Congress, All India Forward Bloc and Hindustan Nirman Dal have fielded Chandan Das, Ajoy Kumar Sarkar and Nikhil Ranjan Das respectively. The campaign by the candidates ended Tuesday evening.
The revival of the defunct Cachar Paper Mill of Panchgram in Hailakandi district is one of the major issues in the poll. Before the last Assembly poll in 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the mills will be revived if BJP comes to power in the State but the mills were not revived and the employees and workers are not getting salaries since the last 27 months. During the last two visits in Barak Valley, Modi also kept mum which also fuelled the anger of the employees of the mill. On April 9, AICC Chief, Rahul Gandhi made a commitment that the mill will be revived within six months if Congress comes to power.
On the other hand, BJP candidate Mallah is targeting the 1.80 lakh tea voters of the constituency capitalising the welfare activities done by the Modi government in the tea gardens. He is totally dependent on the Modi wave and his development agenda.
In Karimganj constituency, the total number of voters is 13,13,469.
The sitting AIUDF candidate Radheshyam Biswas is facing extreme anti-incumbency wave but he is also hopeful to win the seat capitalising on the huge minority votes. If polarisation of votes occurs, then the victory of Biswas can’t be averted, said a senior member of the party. In panchayat election last year, BJP performed better in Karimganj. AIUDF has four MLAs of the eight Assembly segments in Karimganj (SC) constituency while BJP and Congress have two seats each. In the 2014 poll, Biswas got record number of 3,62,866 votes followed by BJP’s Krishna Das’s 2,60,772 votes.
Congress candidate Swarup Das is campaigning both in the urban and rural areas capitalising on the ‘failure’ of the BJP-led NDA alliance government. Das faced the charge of producing a fake scheduled caste certificate but later the complaint against him was withdrawn. He is also hopeful of getting minority votes in his favour.