GUWAHATI, April 6 � The Assembly constituencies of Nalbari district are always considered strongholds of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and this time winning the seats has become a prestige issue for the regional party as the president of the party belongs to the district. However, the Congress is trying hard to woo the voters with development plank and the party is hopeful that the peace process started during the Congress regime will also be beneficial for the party.
AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary admitted that Nalbari district always remained a bastion of the regional party and said that this time, the party is hoping to improve its position in the district. He said that the people of Nalbari district are politically conscious and they are aware of large scale corruption that took place during the regime of the Congress. He said that though Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi laid foundation stones of Engineering and Medical colleges in different parts of the State in recent times, no such institution is planned in Nalbari. In fact, no development activity took place in Nalbari and not even an LP school has been set up in last ten years, he added.
On the other hand, president of Nalbari district Congress committee, Kishore Hazarika said that the Congress, which is fighting on development plank, would be able to do well in the district. He said that a number of poor people have been benefited from the welfare schemes launched by the Congress, while, payment of regular salaries of the State Government employees is another major issue attracting the voters towards the Congress.
Though the pro-talk members of the ULFA are not campaigning for the Congress, the fact that the peace process started during the tenure of the Congress would be beneficial for the party because of the fact that all sections of people have supported the peace initiative and several top leaders of the ULFA are from Nalbari district, Hazarika said.
The AGP president is contesting from Dharmapur constituency for the sixth time and he won from the constituency four times and lost to Nilamani Sen Deka of the Congress once. This time too, his main contest will be with Deka, a Congress nominee.
Commenting on his electoral prospects, Patowary said that he is confident of winning from the constituency for the fifth time. He said that he lost the polls in 2001 only because a militant group targeted the AGP workers and killed six of them. He claimed that during his tenure as the Health Minister, he managed to set up hospitals at one and half kilometre distances in the constituency, while, five new colleges were established during the AGP regime. He said that the condition of the roads improved substantially in the constituency during AGP's tenure in power, while, a number of school buildings were constructed and a number of water supply schemes were implemented. Electricity connections were given to almost all the villages, he added.
On the other hand, Hazarika said that the Congress is confident of giving a tough fight to the AGP president. He said that after becoming the president of the AGP, Patowary failed to devote much time to his constituency and the Congress candidate would be able to take advantage of the situation. He claimed that a number of major development schemes were taken in the area during the Congress Government, which benefited the common people.
On the electoral prospects of the AGP in Nalbari constituency, Patowary said that the AGP candidate Dr Alaka Sarma is still popular among the people and division of the Congress vote bank would be beneficial for the regional party. He said that former MLA Madan Kalita is contesting as an independent candidate after he was denied party ticket by the Congress, which would divide the vote bank of the party.
On the other hand, Hazarika said that the AGP candidate is facing the anti-incumbency factor and she failed to work for the development of the constituency. He said that the MLA stays most of her time in Guwahati and she is distanced from the common people. He also claimed that the people would prefer to vote for the Congress candidate Jayanta Malla Baruah to get the benefit of the development schemes rather than voting for the rebel candidate Madan Kalita.
Barkhetri constituency is witnessing a clash of the titans as Revenue Minister and Congress heavyweight Dr Bhumidhar Barman is facing tough challenge from former Assembly Speaker Pulakesh Baruah of the AGP. Patowary said that the Revenue Minister would face anti-incumbency factor and in last election, Baruah was defeated only because the AGP was divided. He said that the AIUDF would divide the traditional vote bank of the Congress, which would be beneficial for the AGP in the constituency.
However, the Congress district unit president said that the development activities that took place in the constituency in the last ten years would ensure the victory of Dr Barman. He said that one senior AIUDF member joined the Congress with his supporters recently, which would also be helpful for the party in the constituency.
Commenting on the prospects in other constituencies of the district, Patowary said that Rekharani Das Boro is in a comfortable position in Barama, while, the party is also hoping to do well in Tamulpur and Chapaguri, where the BPF has strong base. Meanwhile, Hazarika also said that the Congress candidate is gaining ground in Barama, while, the contests in Chapaguri and Tamulpur would be between Congress and BPF.