DIBRUGARH, April 2 � In all of the 12 Assembly segments in undivided Dibrugarh district (comprising present day Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts), Jibontara Ghatowar of the Congress emerged today as likely winner from Moran, while in the rest of the 11 seats, vigorous straight and three-cornered poll battles have been forecast.
Jibontara Ghatowar, contesting for her third term from Moran (second full term, as her first term was for 16 months after winning a bye-election in 2004), is the wife of Congress heavyweight Paban Singh Ghatowar, the Dibrugarh MP and Congress Parliamentary Party chief whip. She has a very strong presence in the constituency. She has nursed the constituency well, and the only target that she is yet to achieve is getting civil sub division status for Moran. Her popularity spans both tea garden and village votes, as she has successfully endeared herself to the womenfolk.
Her chief competitor for votes in the constituency is Sunil Rajkonwar of the AGP, while the BJP candidate should be happy to remain third in the race for votes on Monday. Sunil Rajkonwar is putting up a valiant fight, but somehow his efforts may not yield the desired results. The main reason for this being that he did not get sufficient time to make himself known to all of the vast Moran constituency. Even so, as an ex-AASU organising secretary, Sunil Rajkonwar has his own fan following and support base in a significant section of the Moran Assembly area.
Today, the Congress camp in Moran took out a huge motorbike procession along the historic Borphukan Ali, and then snaking around Bamunbari before closing near Tiloi. More than a thousand bikers participated, loudly cheering their candidate who was riding an open and decorated jeep. The AGP and the BJP camps too took out bike rides, but on a lesser scale. Talking to The Assam Tribune, Jibontara Ghatowar said, �I have campaigned hard and done my bit. Now I am keeping my fingers crossed.�
Paban Singh Ghatowar told this newspaper today that the Congress is all set to form the next government with a greater number of seats. Last time, the party got 54. Ghatowar expects this figure to go up on May 13, after the votes have been counted. Asked the reason for this optimism, he said this is because the Congress has not faced any anti-incumbency and that the people of the State want the current trend of peace and development to continue. Asked if he could be the next chief minister, he smiled and replied that this was a hypothetical question. �As of now, Tarun Gogoi is doing a fine work, I think the people want him to continue,� he quipped.
With the BJP making a serious effort to break into the upper Assam Congress bastion this time, the party�s new entrant, Sarbananda Sonowal said the BJP would emerge as a dominant political player in Assam. Towards this end, he has spared no effort to try to woo the voters into the saffron fold, and going to the extent of having party supremo publicly declare that the BJP would strive to �make Assam a model State of peace, harmony and development.� This punch line has gone down well with the middle class. But will this transform into votes? That�s the trillion rupee question.
Sonowal said he believes that the voter this time will reject the �corrupt Congress regime� and �vote for the BJP and help build a prosperous Assam.� He said that the voter has realised that blankets, mosquito nets and yarn cannot purchase the conscience of the people, and that the voter is on the lookout for a suitable alternative. �We will provide that alternative,� said the BJP leader. He also accused the Congress government at the Centre and in the State of encouraging illegal infiltration of Bangladeshis into the country to add to the Congress vote bank. We in the BJP will bring a halt to this, he said.
Elsewhere in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, the main emerging contenders are the Congress and BJP candidates. Straight contests have been noticed at Dibrugarh, Duliajan, Chabua, Tinsukia, Doomdooma, Sadiya (here it is between the AGP and the Congress), and Margherita. The AGP is the third angle to the contest at Tingkhong, Lahowal, Digboi, and Naharkatia.
While the AGP campaign was lackluster, the BJP spared no effort to make an impact on the voter. Almost all of the BJP�s top campaigners whizzed across the upper Assam districts in the past fortnight, providing colour and copy for the media. The Congress too deployed several of its top campaigners in the area.
As for the independents and other parties like the CPI, CPI(M), JMM, NCP and others, their campaign did not attract the imagination of the voters in a very big way, except for impacting small pockets. One should not be surprised if the Trinamool Congress gets a significant chunk of the votes this time, given the wide publicity and effort put in by the candidates and the party�s campaigners. The sheer media blitz by the Trinamool has ensured that it remains in public recall. Some are even saying that in several constituencies, the Trinamool would come out with a good percentage of the votes. Whether this voting will help the party�s candidates or erode the prospects of others is a matter of debate.
Meanwhile, the civil administration in all the upper Assam districts have taken all steps for smooth conduct of polls on Monday.
The Election Commission has already used the media to put across the message that all eligible voters should come out and vote on polling day, saying this is a sacred duty of the citizen. Polling teams will begin leaving for the booths from Sunday morning. Elaborate communication systems and logistical support works have been made ready for deployment.