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Many factors behind ticket denial to sitting BJP MPs
PRANJAL BHUYAN
 GUWAHATI, March 28 - Local anti-incumbency, negative feedback from the party’s internal survey report, lacklustre performance, court litigations as well as the strategy to give opportunity to ‘young blood’ were the major factors behind denial of party tickets by the ruling BJP to five of its sitting MPs in Assam for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

 BJP sources told The Assam Tribune that issues like demography and ‘factionalism’ also played a role in selection of candidates.

“Our central leadership had conducted an independent survey across all constituencies some time ago. The findings showed that the performance of some of our sitting MPs was not up to the mark. There was local anti-incumbency in some constituencies. That was the case with Kamakhya Prasad Tasa in Jorhat. In addition, disenchantment among a section of local party cadres was also visible in the constituency. And once the Congress nominated Sushanta Borgohain from Jorhat, our party also decided that fielding a candidate from the Ahom community would be prudent. Besides, after denial of ticket to Rajen Gohain from Jorhat, which was expected for some time, our party needed another face from the Ahom community and Topon Kumar Gogoi came into the picture,” said a BJP leader on condition of anonymity.

He added, “On the other hand, sitting MP from Lakhimpur Pradan Baruah maintained close relations with the voters of his constituency and also the local MLAs. There was no opposition to his candidature from any quarter. Similarly, Dibrugarh MP Rameswar Teli also kept himself largely away from any controversy. The survey report gave favourable feedback about both Teli and Baruah.”

BJP sources said that the court case against Rajen Gohain, which has since been quashed by the Gauhati High Court, sealed his fate.

“As a Union Minister, his candidature could have impacted the party’s prospects in other places as well. There was also some inner-party issues involved. Otherwise, Gohain has a huge support base in Nagaon and had won the constituency four times in a row,” said a source.

He added that Ramen Deka’s replacement with Dilip Saikia in Mangaldai was carried out with a view to infuse young blood.

“Deka has been MP twice and had also served as the State party chief. The party wanted to give opportunity to fresh faces and young candidates. Saikia’s candidature is a reward for his hard work and dedication within the party organisation over the years. Saikia is a favourite with the party cadres and is easily accessible, besides having administrative skill as well as a clean image. In Guwahati, the age factor went against sitting MP Bijoya Chakravarty. The party has opted for another woman candidate to maintain the balance. Queen Ojha has earlier served as Mayor of Guwahati and she is a recognisable and friendly face,” said the BJP office-bearer.

Party sources said that besides the issue of his daughter’s alleged involvement in the APSC scam, what also worked against Tezpur’s sitting MP RP Sarmah is his tendency to make ‘controversial’ comments.

“Sarmah always maintained very close contact with the masses. But he made several public comments which caused embarrassment to our party. He also openly made statements against senior State party leaders at times,” said the source.

He added that the candidature of Pallab Lochan Das from Tezpur and Kripanath Mallah from Karimganj has the distinct impression of NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma being able to have his way, even though Sarma’s own name from the panel of candidates for Tezpur was removed on directions of the BJP high command.

“Besides, after denial of candidature to Tasa from Jorhat, there was a need to send a signal to the tea community voters that our party remains committed to protecting their interests. Das’ nomination from Tezpur is, to some extent, on account of that factor,” said the leader.

He said that in Silchar the party opted for Dr Rajdeep Roy, an old BJP hand having contact with the masses, as the electoral battle in the constituency will be one of “personality”.

“Our list shows that all ‘factions’, including leaders who can be considered ‘old BJP’, those who joined the party from Congress in recent years and those who were earlier associated with AGP-AASU, have managed to achieve a balance in ticket distribution,” he added.

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