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Will Sivasagar LACs spring surprises?
Ron Duarah
 SIVASAGAR, March 27 – Assam’s heartland district, Sivasagar of today has six Assembly segments. The district has boasted of politicians like Bimala Prasad Chaliha and Hiteswar Saikia, both of whom had illustrious terms as chief ministers. Of course, the district today has none of the politicians of their calibre, but it appears from a bird’s eye view that except in the Sivasagar, Nazira and Thowra segments, the sitting MLAs of 2006 may well return to Dispur this time too from the three other seats of Amguri, Mahmora and Sonari.

However, this assumption could be deceptive, as in elections, the voters are known to spring a surprise and prove journalists wrong. It is from this angle that an attempt is being made to give a fair reporting, without being judgmental.

Beginning with Amguri, the constituency this time has five candidates for the voters to choose from. They are, Prodip Hazarika of the AGP, Anjan Dutta of the Congress, Rajkumar Duwarah of the All India Forward Block (AIFB), Jayanta Gogoi of the AIUDF and Manik Dutta of Trinamool Congress. Of the five, the two front runners are the AGP and Congress candidates. Locals in Amguri make no fuss about this. From this point onwards, the AGP candidate, Hazarika has the edge due to his activity in the constituency. Moreover, he is also the sitting MLA. Against this, Anjan Dutta too has been trying to regain the constituency (he lost to Hazarika in 2006), but his efforts seem to lack the finesse that is required.

A battle royale is on for winning from Sivasagar, where there are seven contestants in the election battleground: Promode Gogoi (CPI), Pranabjit Chaliha (AGP), Pranab Gogoi (Cong), Jayanta Rajkonwar (BJP), Amanuddin Ahmed (AIUDF), Sheikh Muzibur Rahman (NCP) and Pradip Pasani (Trinamool). A strong anti incumbency affects the poll prospects of Pranab Gogoi here, who is seeking re-election, and this is being fully exploited by Pranabjit Chaliha of the AGP. Also in hot pursuit are the CPI and BJP candidates. In fact, the local assessment here is that Promode Gogoi and Jayanta Rajkonwar are well in the race in a basically quadrangular contest here in this historic town. But despite the keen contest, the diminishing prospects for the sitting MLA cannot be missed.

Hiteswar Saikia’s son, Debabrata Saikia is one of the seven candidates for the Nazira Assembly segment. With no dearth of “political families” in the country, Saikia too thinks of the constituency as his pocket borough, and it is with this self confidence that he is conducting his poll canvassing. Drupad Borgohain of the CPI, the sitting MLA, is finding the going quite tough in the current year. The five others in the poll field in Nazira are Ajit Hazarika (NCP), Md. Sofiquddin Ahmed (AIUDF), Syed Abdul Rakim (BJP), Hari Krishna Gogoi (Trinamool) and Juri Konwar (Independent). It is unclear why the veteran trade union leader, Drupad Borgohain has lost public favour in Nazira, but the wave this time does not seem to be with him. As an MLA he has been quite vocal. As a person he is honest. Nazira needs to reconsider candidates like him. That the Congress has a richer candidate and a legacy inheritor should not be the sole criterion against relatively better politicians.

At Mahmora, despite there being eight candidates whose names would figure on the ballot, the contest is basically triangular, between sitting Congress MLA Sarat Saikia, Jogen Mohon of the BJP and Hiranya Konwar of the AGP. The five other candidates are Nitya Gogoi (RCPI), Rajen Gogoi (NCP), Mahesh Ghatowar (Independent), Haren Borgohain (AIFB) and Rashadul Haque (Trinamool). Sarat Saikia, though being an efficient MLA for the past five years, also suffers from anti incumbency, facilitating better prospects for the AGP and BJP candidates in the constituency.

Asked to comment on his prospects, Sonari MLA Sarat Borkotoky of the Congress said “he is competing with himself.” Not quite. There are six others jostling for space: Anup Singh Rajpuruhit (BJP), Krishna Kanta Gogoi (Independent), Monil Bakalial (AGP), Rajendra Buragohain (JMM), Bimala Prasad Phukan (Trinamool) and Lakhi Narayan Gogoi (Independent). The senior Congress leader is seeking re-election for the fifth straight term and it should surprise no one if he manages this one too. His only concern is the BJP candidate, in what is a straight contest for Sonari.

Among Rahul Gandhi’s favourites in Assam is Sushanta Borgohain, who is being fielded by the Congress this time to try his luck from Thowra. The sitting MLA there is a rather influential independent, Kushal Duwari, who is trying his luck for a third consecutive term from the Assembly segment. Of the seven candidates in the reckoning for Thowra, the emerging picture is that of a triangular contest between Borgohain, Duwari and Siba Prasad Bhadra of the BJP. The guess in the BJP camp is that while Borgohain and Duwari would share the village votes, Bhadra would emerge victorious from the tea garden votes. If only electoral game plans could be that simple! The four other candidates in Thowra are Lilajyoti Phukan (AGP), Sheikh Jalal Ali (AIUDF), and independents Dipika Duwari and Robin Sarmah.

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