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Realignment of tea votes in upper Assam

By Ron Duarah

DIBRUGARH, May 23 - The BJP�s resounding poll victory in the State was on expected lines. But what has startled pollsters is the total collapse of the mighty Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS)-backed Congress in the tea garden belt. With Paban Singh Ghatowar biting the dust after a long stint in the Assembly and Parliament, what is now clear is that the tea voters are looking elsewhere for patronage.

Ghatowar lost to political novice Chakradhar Gogoi of the BJP by a margin of 16,231 votes. His defeat has sent shock waves throughout the tea belt as well as in the Congress camp, as Ghatowar is reckoned as the senior-most Congress leader in Assam, next only to Tarun Gogoi.

Sources in the Congress said that they secretly feared a poll rout way back in January this year. The party fielded Paban Singh Ghatowar himself from Moran instead of his son, Pranjal, who was earlier shortlisted as the party candidate from the constituency, as the Congress did not want to lose Moran.

Now that the results are out, it is certain that Pranjal would have faced a humiliating defeat in his debut election.

Elsewhere in the upper Assam tea belt, the domino defeat of veteran Congress leaders, many of whom are from the tea labourer communities, has revealed a new political reality. That the tea garden voter has lost interest in the Congress and its so called �tea leaders� who have been enjoying and relishing their VIP privileges, even as the voters wobbled in penury, neglect and deprivation.

Nothing else can explain the resounding defeat of Congress stalwarts like Sarat Borkotoki, Pradyut Bordoloi, Prithibi Majhi, Rajendra Prasad Singh, Raju Shahu, and to lesser extent, Bismita Gogoi, Susanta Buragohain etc., in places where tea labourer votes help significantly in a candidate�s poll victory.

As the trends emerged of a �BJP+ tsunami� this morning, shell shocked Congress leaders either switched off their mobile phones or did not take calls from reporters. It was evident they were at a loss for words or preparing to put on a brave face later in the day. Congress leader Prantik Konwar said, �The people did not vote for us, it�s okay, let�s spend some time in the Opposition.�

Paban Singh Ghatowar too gracefully accepted the poll verdict. �In an election, only one can win, the rest looses. I wish the new government well,� he said. He added that the Congress will be brought back to power in the next elections by the voter. While Ghatowar has taken today�s defeat in his stride, others in his party are yet to overcome their gloom. One senior leader, who did not want to be named, said the Congress may need much more than optimism to return to power in the State.

�We need new leaders and a new agenda,� was his parting shot. His statement also mirrors the sentiments playing in the minds of other thousands on Congressmen in the state. This could be ascertained by the applause he got after his one liner.

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Realignment of tea votes in upper Assam

DIBRUGARH, May 23 - The BJP�s resounding poll victory in the State was on expected lines. But what has startled pollsters is the total collapse of the mighty Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS)-backed Congress in the tea garden belt. With Paban Singh Ghatowar biting the dust after a long stint in the Assembly and Parliament, what is now clear is that the tea voters are looking elsewhere for patronage.

Ghatowar lost to political novice Chakradhar Gogoi of the BJP by a margin of 16,231 votes. His defeat has sent shock waves throughout the tea belt as well as in the Congress camp, as Ghatowar is reckoned as the senior-most Congress leader in Assam, next only to Tarun Gogoi.

Sources in the Congress said that they secretly feared a poll rout way back in January this year. The party fielded Paban Singh Ghatowar himself from Moran instead of his son, Pranjal, who was earlier shortlisted as the party candidate from the constituency, as the Congress did not want to lose Moran.

Now that the results are out, it is certain that Pranjal would have faced a humiliating defeat in his debut election.

Elsewhere in the upper Assam tea belt, the domino defeat of veteran Congress leaders, many of whom are from the tea labourer communities, has revealed a new political reality. That the tea garden voter has lost interest in the Congress and its so called �tea leaders� who have been enjoying and relishing their VIP privileges, even as the voters wobbled in penury, neglect and deprivation.

Nothing else can explain the resounding defeat of Congress stalwarts like Sarat Borkotoki, Pradyut Bordoloi, Prithibi Majhi, Rajendra Prasad Singh, Raju Shahu, and to lesser extent, Bismita Gogoi, Susanta Buragohain etc., in places where tea labourer votes help significantly in a candidate�s poll victory.

As the trends emerged of a �BJP+ tsunami� this morning, shell shocked Congress leaders either switched off their mobile phones or did not take calls from reporters. It was evident they were at a loss for words or preparing to put on a brave face later in the day. Congress leader Prantik Konwar said, �The people did not vote for us, it�s okay, let�s spend some time in the Opposition.�

Paban Singh Ghatowar too gracefully accepted the poll verdict. �In an election, only one can win, the rest looses. I wish the new government well,� he said. He added that the Congress will be brought back to power in the next elections by the voter. While Ghatowar has taken today�s defeat in his stride, others in his party are yet to overcome their gloom. One senior leader, who did not want to be named, said the Congress may need much more than optimism to return to power in the State.

�We need new leaders and a new agenda,� was his parting shot. His statement also mirrors the sentiments playing in the minds of other thousands on Congressmen in the state. This could be ascertained by the applause he got after his one liner.