Guwahati, April 17 (IANS) Assam’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may find the going tough in the state’s Nowgong Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to the polls in the second phase of the elections on Thursday, after changing its long-time candidate.
Nowgong, where polling will be held along with Mangaldai, the Autonomous District and Silchar and Karimganj in the Barak Valley along with 90 other seats across India, has been a BJP stronghold since 1999 when its candidate Rajen Gohain won from there. Gohain has retained the seat under three terms of rule by the Congress (2001-2016).
Although the Congress had won six of the constituency’s nine Assembly seats in the 2011 Assembly elections, Gohain had managed to retain the Lok Sabha seat by a handsome margin in the 2014 parliamentary polls.
However, this time the BJP has replaced Gohain, a Minister of State in the Narendra Modi government, with sitting BJP MLA from Nowgong Rupak Sarmah, while the Congress has put forward former state Minister Pradyut Bordoloi.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has not fielded anyone in the constituency this time, which might give the Congress some advantage.
The BJP has been retaining the seat despite the fact that 38 per cent voters in Nowgong are religious minorities who are a decisive factor at least in five Assembly segments.
The Congress is confident of its chances this time.
“I am confident of my victory from the Nowgong constituency this time as the people have realised their mistake of voting for the BJP in 2014. The BJP has been pitting one community against the other in Nowgong and in the process, development is getting hampered. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is going to reduce the indigenous people to a minority in Assam,” said Bordoloi.
BJP’s Sarmah, on the other hand, said that although he is contesting the Lok Sabha polls for the first time, he is getting good response from the people of the constituency. “I am sure people will vote for the BJP for development of the region,” he said.
A total of 69,10,592 voters, including 33,55,952 women and 180 belonging to the third gender, are expected to cast their votes in the five constituencies in Assam on Thursday. There are a total of 50 candidates, including 18 Independents in the fray.