Sanjoy Kr Hazarika

DERGAON, March 23: An interesting battle of ballots will be witnessed by the people of 95 Golaghat constituency in the election to be held on March 27.

Although this time the main fight is likely to be between the BJP-led alliance and Congress-led alliance candidates, a section of voters in Golaghat are utterly confused as both the candidates switched sides only recently.

Sitting MLA Ajanta Neog, who had won the seat in the last four elections as a Congress candidate, is today a BJP candidate for this election. She won the last election as a Congress candidate amidst the BJP’s wave over developmental works.

Similarly, Bitupan Saikia, who lost the 2016 election narrowly as a BJP candidate, continued his organisational activities as a youth leader and gained considerable popularity among the voters. But, denied a party ticket this time, he joined the Congress and is contesting as a Congress candidate. The other candidate, Rina Saikia, a new face, is contesting from the newly-formed Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP).

In the 2016 election, Ajanta Neog (73,862 votes, 50.17 pc) defeated Bitupan Saikia (68,649 votes, 46.63 pc) by a margin of just 5,213 votes (0.04 pc).  The third position holder, AIUDF’s Syed Jahid Abdullah, polled only 1,804 votes while NOTA registered 1,717 votes and Independent Dipankar Das got 1,193. In that election, a total of 1,47,225 votes were cast out of a total of 1,75,488 registered votes.

In the last 14 elections held in Golaghat LAC since 1951, Congress had won the seat nine times while others had won it on five occasions. The incumbents for the seat were Rajendranath Barua (1951 and 1957, INC), Dandeswar Hazarika (INC, 1962), Soneswar Bora (1967, 1967 and 1978, Samjukta Socialist Party, Socialist Party and Janata Party), Nogen Neog (1983, INC), Debeswar Bora (1985, Independent), Nagen Neog (1991, INC), Atul Bora (AGP, 1996) and Ajanta Neog (2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016, INC).

Altogether 1,02,516 female voters, out of a mixed population of 2,05,196, will exercise their franchise in Golaghat LAC. Among them, 4,410 are in the age group of 18-19, while 2,380 are above 80 years. Similarly, 243 are differently-abled voters, including 122 females, while there are 390 Service voters and 485 D-voters in the electoral roll of the LAC.

As for campaigning, the candidates of both the BJP and the Congress are gearing up their activities to woo the voters. But, at present, the scene is still hazy.

Common voters are reluctant to comment on the election as they are exhausted with the latest political developments. They are waiting only to cast their votes sans any expectations.

“This election will determine whether the sitting MLA gets votes as a BJP candidate or as an individual,” a senior political leader opined.

“The election is just a democratic exercise for us and not for any special cause as no significant change for the better has been witnessed,” a qualified voter said.

“Unprecedented price hike, unemployment problem, floods, etc, will be on the agenda before the voters in this election,” a senior resident of Bokakhat said.

“Developmental works carried out by the sitting MLA will be the guiding force for the BJP candidate in the LAC,” a young voter observed.

For smooth conduct of the election, the Golaghat election district administration has appointed six zonal officers, 23 sector officers along with 288 presiding officers and 864 polling officers.

Among the polling stations, a total of 138 stations will be covered by webcasting while 20 will have micro observers.