GUWAHATI, Oct 16 - After the massive defeat suffered by it during the last Assembly polls in the State, the Congress party is now aiming to bounce back by putting up a good show in the forthcoming by-elections to the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha and Baithalangso Assembly seats.
Senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) leaders told The Assam Tribune that the party is expected to name its candidates for both the polls by end of October.
A total of nine party leaders have applied for ticket to contest from the Lakhimpur parliamentary constituency, while two party members, both former State ministers hailing from Karbi Anglong, have filed their applications seeking ticket for the Baithalangso Assembly seat.
�For the party, the bypolls are an opportunity to revive the party and spirit of our members after the drubbing we received during the 2014 General Elections and 2016 Assembly polls. We are confident of putting up a tough fight, maybe even win from both places,� said a Congress leader.
The Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Sarbananda Sonowal resigned as an MP in May and took over as Chief Minister, following the BJP�s win in the Assembly elections. On the other hand, by-election to the Baithalangso constituency has became necessary after Dr Mansing Rongpi, who had won from the constituency as a Congress candidate in the last Assembly elections, resigned from his seat in July after he left the Congress and joined BJP.
As per rules, elections have to be conducted within six months of any seat becoming vacant. Congress leaders claimed that the BJP�s stock is down since April-May when the saffron party put up an astonishing performance in the Assembly polls.
�People of the State have become disenchanted with the performance of both the Central and the State governments. The BJP has bitten more than it can chew and it has failed to fulfil any of its promises. In many cases, the State government headed by the BJP has taken decisions against the interest of the people of Assam, as seen in the case of granting citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus and with regard to auction of small oilfields,� said a Congress leader.
He added, �Had the BJP really been confident, it would have announced its candidates for the by-elections by now. In fact, what we are hearing is that the ruling party is sure that none of its present leaders will be able to win from Lakhimpur and so it is planning to put up as candidate a senior academic who teaches at one of the most renowned universities of the State.�
APCC sources said they are confident of winning from Baithalangso. �Voters of Baithalangso are itching to teach Mansing Rongpi a lesson for his betrayal. Rongpi cannot win as a BJP candidate,� said a Congress leader, adding that in Lakhimpur the fight will be tough.
�But Lakhimpur is a tricky constituency spread over many districts and with a number of castes, communities and ethnic groups, each with their own aspirations. It will not be easy for the BJP as well,� he added.
The respective district committees of the Congress will soon forward the names of the ticket aspirants to the APCC, which in turn will prepare a shortlist, which will be sent to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) for final selection of the candidates.