SIVASAGAR, April 2 - Though voters at the tea stalls, sweet shops, central market, parking places and several other public places of the historic town of Sivasagar hesitated to come out in the open about their political preferences, a majority of them said that the personality of Congress candidate Pranab Gogoi still attracts them as �no other candidate could compete with the veteran politician�s personality and his long-term familiarity with the common voters�.
As the BJP and the other contenders for the seat could not play the anti-incumbency card against the Congress candidate in every nook and corner of Sivasagar during their election campaign, voters anticipate that Gogoi may again win even though by a lower margin.
However, the same voters said that the BJP�s Surabhi Rajkumari and Asom Sangrami Mancha�s Aswini Chetia (former president of AATASU) have been trying to woo thousands of young voters for the past few days through a series of campaigns in the town and the rural pockets, which have been Congress bastions since 2001.
From Darikapar to the Ranghar Chariali and from Cherekapar to Jengonikotia, a majority of the roadside voters said that the report card of the last 15 years of the Congress rule did not influence their minds to prefer Gogoi.
They also alleged that corruption at the panchayat level stalled development in Sivasagar and the Congress Government�s announcement of setting up a majestic campus of the Assam Rajiv Gandhi University of Cooperative Management in the constituency could not become a reality in the past five years.
�But, Gogoi�s relations with the common people and his friendly behaviour still captures the imagination at a time when Congress candidates and ministers in many constituencies are facing tough times,� said a shop-keeper at Darikapar area of the town.
Pranab Gogoi was sent by the Sivasagar voters for the last three consecutive terms to the State Legislative Assembly after CPI�s Pramode Gogoi lost the seat in 2001. Like in the previous polls, this time also, political parties preferred to put up Ahom candidates to gain favour from a majority of voters as more than 55 per cent of the 1,35,000 voters of the constituency belong to that particular community.
In rural pockets like Disangmukh, Panbecha, Konwarpur, Betbari etc., the Congress wave seems more apparent. Voters here said that the BJP had done a mistake in aligning with the AGP.
However, many voters in the rural areas hoped that a change takes place in Sivasagar, as Pranab Gogoi could not fulfil their dreams of all-round development. �But it seems difficult for the BJP to gain popular mandate due to its weak organisational base across the constituency. Besides, alliance with the AGP has also disappointed several party workers,� said a senior citizen of Disangmukh requesting anonymity.
Today, Congress workers concentrated only in campaigning in all the 18 village panchayats of the constituency for the victory of Pranab Gogoi, while the BJP and other party�s candidates campaigned at different pockets of the town and some rural areas to gain the popular mandate in the ensuing poll.