GUWAHATI, March 31 - With major political parties having announced their full list of candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, it is interesting to note that both the Congress and the BJP, the two main contenders in Assam, have this time gone for �new faces�, including young candidates, in most of the constituencies.
Leaders of both the parties said that priority has been given to new candidates who have no previous experience of contesting parliamentary polls on account of various factors, including as an effort to create a new section of leadership for the future, to beat local anti-incumbency and to present a new message to the electorate.
�A majority of our candidates in Assam this time comprise of first-timers who have never fought a Lok Sabha election earlier and many of them are young. Since he took over the helm of affairs of our party, Rahul Gandhi has been clear that he wants to give opportunities to new faces and to young blood. Our candidates have been selected on parameters like efficiency and proven track record, besides recognition and acceptability among the masses,� a senior office-bearer of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) told The Assam Tribune.
He said that the party�s candidates for Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Karimganj, Nagaon, Barpeta, Dhubri and Guwahati are �first-timers� in the sense that they have never contested Lok Sabha polls before.
�It is the new Congress under Rahul Gandhi. All the new faces are capable individuals who have excelled in diverse fields. They are all public figures and known to the voters. We believe they will be able to raise their voice in Parliament on issues concerning the State. Anil Borgohain, our Lakhimpur nominee, is a successful entrepreneur. Our Tezpur candidate MGVK Bhanu reached the top bureaucratic level and served the people in various official capacities. Our Guwahati candidate Bobbeeta Sharma is a known face. Nagaon nominee Pradyut Bordoloi is not only very highly qualified, but has also served as a MLA and minister. Abdul Khaleque, our candidate from Barpeta, is well known as a writer and journalist,� said the Congress leader.
He added, �Many, if not all, of the first-timers are young. We want to convey a message to the youth of the State that we care for them and their future.�
The Congress party has, however, re-nominated its three sitting Lok Sabha MPs in Assam.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP said that the tradition of fielding new faces has always been integral to the party�s strategy.
�While it is true that some of our sitting MPs in Assam were facing local anti-incumbency due to non-performance and had to be changed, the BJP has always been keen to give opportunities to fresh faces,� said a source in the State BJP.
He said that eight of the party�s 10 candidates from Assam this time are contesting in the Lok Sabha polls for the first time.
�Our candidates for Jorhat, Tezpur, Nagaon, Silchar, Karimganj, Guwahati, Mangaldoi and Diphu seats are first-timers in the parliamentary race. But they are all well known figures, capable and with clean images. Queen Ojha is popular in Guwahati as she had earlier served as Mayor of the city. Dilip Saikia, our candidate for Mangaldai constituency, commands the support of the party cadres and has good administrative skills.
Similarly, Tezpur nominee Pallab Lochan Das and Jorhat nominee Topon Kumar Gogoi performed well as ministers in the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government. Dr Rajdeep Roy is a known physician and commands a strong base in Silchar. Many of our new faces are also members of the �youth brigade�. We expect very good results with this panel of candidates,� said the BJP leader.
He added that the saffron party is looking to create a new generation of leaders in the State.
The ruling BJP has dropped five of its seven sitting MPs from Assam for the elections.
Besides the BJP and the Congress, other political parties have also fielded new candidates in Assam. Among them, AGP�s Kaliabor nominee Mani Madhav Mahanta and CPM�s Kokrajhar candidate Biraj Deka are notable.