Guwahati, Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Guwahati LS constituency
PRANJAL BHUYAN
 GUWAHATI, April 8 – As the city, along with the rest of the country, gears up for the world’s largest democratic exercise, it is worth noting that the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency has in recent years witnessed close contest among leading candidates with the margin between the winner and the runner-up candidates shrinking with each election.

 In the last general elections in 2009, BJP’s Bijoya Chakravarty was the winner. However, she had a close fight with her nearest rival Captain Robin Bordoloi of Congress.

While Chakravarty secured 4,96,047 votes, Bordoloi received 4,84,192 votes. The margin was only 11,855 votes or just around one per cent of the total valid votes cast by the electorates of the constituency, which is also the largest constituency (as per the total number of voters) in the State.

The previous time the constituency witnessed such a neck-and-neck fight was in 1967. That year, when the Congress suffered its first major reverses nationally since Independence, Dhireswar Kalita of Communist Party of India (CPI) had defeated Congress’ Renuka Devi Barkataki by only 1,550 votes.

The margin was only 0.59 per cent of the total valid votes cast. Kalita secured 90,208 votes against 88,658 by Barkataki.

In the 1st Lok Sabha elections in 1952, Congress candidate Rohini Kumar Chaudhury (96,122 votes) had defeated his nearest Socialist Party rival Lakshya Dhar Chaudhury (72,553) by a margin of 11.63 per cent of the total valid votes.

In the 2nd Lok Sabha polls of 1957, Praja Socialist Party (PSP) veteran Hem Barua (1,43,497) defeated Devendra Nath Sarma (96,624) of Congress with the margin between them being 19.52 per cent.

In 1962, the margin was 11.96 per cent when Barua (1,33,812) was re-elected defeating Congress candidate Tirtha Nath Sarmah (1,01,750).

After the close contest of 1967, the battle turned out to be one-sided in 1971 when Dinesh Chandra Goswami (1,40,483) of Congress was the winner against CPI’s Kalita (44,482) by a margin of 43.4 per cent of the valid votes cast.

The historic 1977 polls, after the Emergency, saw Renuka Devi Barkataki contesting as a Janata Party candidate. She received 1,49,255 votes and her nearest rival Dinesh Chandra Goswami got 1,12,815 votes, with the margin of victory being 12.82 per cent.

The 7th Lok Sabha polls of 1980 were not held in the Brahmaputra Valley seats. And voting for the Lok Sabha seats in Assam and Punjab for the 8th Lok Sabha took place only in 1985. However, in rest of the country the polls took place in 1984.

In 1985, Dinesh Goswami, who went on to become Union Law Minister, secured 4,28,013 votes against Bhagaban Lahkar (1,24,507) of Congress. The margin was 43.2 per cent.

Elections to the Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam were not held along with the rest of the country in 1989.

In the 10th Lok Sabha polls in 1991, Congress’ Kirip Chaliha (1,69,628) was the winner and Natun Asom Gana Parishad’s (NAGP) Asfaf Ali (1,24,823) was the runner-up with the margin being 6.30 per cent.

In 1996, AGP’s Prabin Chandra Sarmah (3,72,833) defeated Congress’ Bhubaneswar Kalita (2,58,436) by a margin of 13.59 per cent of the total valid votes.

The 1998 elections saw the margin between the two leading candidates going up to 22.25 per cent. Bhubaneswar Kalita (2,85,482) defeated BJP’s Manoranjan Goswami (1,57,309).

However, in 1999, the margin between the winner and runner-up came down to 8.98 per cent with Bijoya Chakravarty (3,84,771) of BJP defeating Kalita (3,09,533).

In 2004, Kirip Chaliha (3,53,250) regained the seat for Congress defeating Bhupen Hazarika (2,92,099) of BJP with the margin standing at 6.93 per cent of the total valid votes cast.