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Congress batting on a sticky wicket in Barak valley

Written by: Staff

Silchar, Mar 30: Anti-incumbency, poor candidate selection and split of Muslim votes have put Congress on the backfoot in the Barak valley, a traditional party stronghold in Asom.

With seven of the 15 seats going to them in the last election, the Congress was sitting pretty but the advent of the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a Muslim party, has shaken the Congress, which is now working extra hard to retain the seven.

As the three districts of Karimganj, Cachar and Hailkandi shore border with Bangladesh, they have sizable number of Bangladeshi settlers, who have always supported the Congress.

The equation, however, has changed with the arrival of the AUDF, which is going to split the Muslim votes. Even a small change in the voting pattern might seal the fate of many Congress candidates.

The Congress this time has nominated Bithika Dev, wife of Union Heavy Industry Minister Santosh Mohan Dev and is quite confident of dethroning two-time BJP MLA Bimalangshu Roy. Ms Dev is also the Chairperson of Silchar Municipal Board.

In other constituencies, the BJP has been going strong. The party expects to win a lion's share to play a role in the next government.

banking on both the ''communal card as well as tea card'' to garner support, it is not leaving any stone unturned.

'' The Congress will not allow Bimalangshu Roy to fulfil his dream to win for a third time. While Silchar municipality as well as the state government under the Congress rule has done a lot of developmental work over the past years, the local MLA's performance is not satisfactory, '' said Mr Dev. The Congress has taken up development as its agenda while on the other hand the BJP has been banking on anti-incumbency factor of the ruling Congress. Some of the issues, including Bangladeshi infiltration, are also in the agenda of the saffron party.

' The BJP this time will break the tally of 1991 and will set a new record,'' said BJP National General Cecretary Promod Mahajan.

The selection of ticket has also gone against the Congress. It has denied ticket to its sitting MLA from Ratabari segment Kripanath Mala, a tea leader. The action of the party invited wrath of Cachar Cha Shramik Union (CCSU), an Intuc-affiliated tea workers' union.

Further Samata Party MLA from South Karimganj segment Siddeq Ahmed had supported the Congress in the outgoing Assembly on the condition that he would be given Congress ticket in the coming election. However, to the ruling party's discomfort, the sitting MLA was not chosen for the Congress nomination this time.

Sources said this action of the party would find Congress nominee of South Karimganj Abdul Muktadir Chaudhary, a senior partyman in a disadvantageous situation, as he has to face challenge from sitting MLA Siddeq Ahmed, fighting as an Independent candidate.


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