GUWAHATI, April 6 - The main contests in the five constituencies of the State, which go to the polls during the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 11, is expected to be between the ruling NDA and the Congress, the principal Opposition party.
Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Kaliabor constituencies are going to the polls in the first phase.
In the last parliamentary elections, held in 2014, the BJP had emerged victorious from Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Dibrugarh and Jorhat constituencies, while the Kaliabor seat had gone to the Congress.
Unlike 2014, this time the BJP has an alliance with the AGP and the BPF, as well as with three other smaller local parties.
As part of the seat-sharing arrangements among the NDA constituents, BJP has fielded candidates from Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Dibrugarh and Jorhat, while the Kaliabor seat has been allotted to the AGP.
On the other hand, AIUDF's decision not to field candidates from a majority of the constituencies for the coming elections is likely to benefit the Congress, especially in Kaliabor and also to some extent in Lakhimpur, among the seats which will vote in the first phase.
The five constituencies going to the polls in phase one have a sizeable segment of voters belonging to the tea community. Till 2014, the Congress had a �solid command� over the tea community vote, but the situation has changed in recent years with the BJP managing to make significant inroads among members of the tea tribes.
Similarly, voters of the Ahom, Muttock, Moran and Chutia communities, all of whom have been demanding ST status for years, as well as other indigenous ethnic groups are also present in significant numbers in most of the seats of phase one.
Besides, Tezpur constituency has a huge concentration of voters belonging to the Gorkha community, Kaliabor has substantial number of minority voters, and Lakhimpur has a sizeable segment of Mising community electorate.
During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Sarbananda Sonowal of BJP had defeated his nearest rival Ranee Narah of Congress by a margin of over 2.92 lakh votes in Lakhimpur constituency. After Sonowal took over as Chief Minister and resigned as MP in 2016, the seat was won by BJP�s Pradan Baruah in a bye-election.
The BJP has re-nominated Baruah from the seat, while the Congress has given ticket to Anil Borgohain, a new face.
The AGP and the Sanmilita Ganashakti, both part of the NDA, have some support base in parts of the constituency. AGP had polled over 81,000 votes in the Lakhimpur seat in 2014.
On the other hand, the AIUDF had secured over 37,000 votes in the constituency during the last Lok Sabha elections. The AIUDF base, comprising mostly of minority voters from the Naoboicha Assembly segment, can be expected to shift to the Congress this time.
Of the 11 candidates in the fray from Lakhimpur, the main contest is likely to be between BJP�s Baruah and Congress� Borgohain. However, former BJP MLA Dilip Moran, contesting as candidate of the Asom Dristi Party, is expected to garner good number of votes.
In 2014, BJP�s Rameswar Teli had defeated his nearest rival and Congress nominee Paban Singh Ghatowar by a margin of over 1.85 lakh votes in Dibrugarh. Both Teli and Ghatowar are again in the fray this time as candidates of their respective parties.
AGP had secured over 45,000 votes in 2014 in the constituency. BJP will be hoping to be the recipient of the regional party�s vote base this time.
Teli and Ghatowar are the main contenders for the constituency, among the eight contestants who are in the fray. National People�s Party (NPP) candidate Bhaben Baruah is also expected to make a mark in the electoral battle.
In Jorhat, the main fight is likely to be between BJP�s Topon Kumar Gogoi and Congress� Sushanta Borgohain. Both are �new faces� in the Lok Sabha poll arena and part of the �youth brigade� of the respective parties.
The ruling BJP dropped its sitting MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, who had won the Jorhat seat in 2014 by defeating his nearest Congress rival Bijoy Krishna Handique by a margin of over 1.02 lakh votes.
However, the BJP suffered serious reverses in areas falling under the Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency during last year�s panchayat polls, even as the Congress regained ground that it had ceded in recent years.
The AGP had managed to secure over 46,000 votes in the constituency in 2014. The BJP will hope to gain those votes in the coming polls.
In a field of eight candidates, CPI nominee Kanak Gogoi is also expected to do well in some pockets of the constituency.
Both the BJP and the Congress have fielded new faces in Tezpur for the coming elections.
The ruling party denied re-nomination to its sitting MP RP Sarmah, who had defeated Bhupen Kumar Borah of the Congress by a margin of over 86,000 votes in 2014.
While the AGP has secured over 40,000 votes that year in the constituency, former MP and Congress rebel Moni Kumar Subba had polled over 62,000 votes by contesting as an Independent.
This time, BJP has nominated State Minister Pallab Lochan Das for the seat and Congress has fielded former Additional Chief Secretary MGVK Bhanu.
It will be interesting to see which way the Gorkha community vote swings in Tezpur this time in the absence of a �known face� from the community as contender for one of the major parties. In a field of seven candidates from the constituency, a direct contest is expected between Bhanu and Das.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress had won from Kaliabor constituency by defeating his nearest BJP rival Mrinal Kumar Saikia by a margin of over 93,000 votes.
AIUDF had that time secured over 2.31 lakh votes and AGP had polled over 78,000 votes in the constituency.
While Gogoi is again in the fray as the Congress nominee, the ruling alliance�s candidate is Mani Madhav Mahanta of AGP.
Kaliabor has a substantial segment of electorate belonging to the minority community.
While a major chunk of the traditional AIUDF vote base is expected to shift to the Congress this time, NPP nominee Abdul Aziz could also make a dent in the minority vote.
It will also be worthwhile watching to what extent the BJP is able to ensure transfer of its vote base to the AGP.
There are seven candidates in the fray from Kaliabor, with the main contest likely to be between the Congress and the AGP.