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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Assam bypolls: As seat-sharing talks with Akhil Gogoi outfit stall, Cong announces 5 candidates

On Sunday, state Congress president Bhupen Borah announced that the grand old party would be contesting in four of six seats, leaving out Majuli and Bhabanipur for the AJP and the RD

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: October 6, 2021 8:41:30 am
On October 30, five assembly seats — Gossaigaon, Tamulpur, Bhabanipur, Mariani and Thowra — will go to vote. (File)

Amid talks for an “understanding” with Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal (RD) for upcoming bypolls in the state, the Congress on Tuesday named candidates for five seats after a stalemate with RD over seat-sharing.

Voting for five Assembly constituencies — Gossaigaon, Tamulpur, Bhabanipur, Mariani and Thowra — is scheduled for October 30. The election date for a bypoll to a sixth seat – Majuli, which fell vacant after former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was inducted into the Rajya Sabha earlier this month – is yet to be announced.

On Sunday, state Congress president Bhupen Borah had announced that the party would be contesting in four of six seats, leaving out Majuli and Bhabanipur for AJP and RD, respectively.

However, on Tuesday, Congress announced candidates for all five seats, including Bhabanipur. The constituency is an AIUDF stronghold that had fallen vacant after the party’s Phani Talukdar joined BJP in August.

While RD’s Akhil Gogoi was the one to propose the idea of smaller parties banding with the Congress, he is yet to agree to Congress’s proposition, since both parties want to contest from Thowra, in upper Assam’s Sivasagar district.

“Thowra is a seat we do not want to give up because we won it just a few months ago but Akhil Gogoi is adamant on the Thowra seat, so it looks like our agreement will not work out,” Borah said.

Gogoi, on the other hand, said the Congress was trying to “dictate” the seat sharing.

“We are happy to support them (Congress) in all five seats, all we asked for was Thowra — but they went ahead and declared their candidate,” he said, adding that while sacrifice is needed to defeat the BJP, his party, being an emerging force cannot sacrifice everything.

“The Congress is quite weak and has little chance of winning. Instead of being rigid, they should accept that and be more accommodating,” Gogoi said.

Currently, RD is contesting in two seats: Mariani and Thowra. “If the Congress says they will give up Thowra, then we may give up Mariani and end up just contesting one seat,” he added.

AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi meanwhile, said that while they still maintained ideological differences with the Congress, the seat-sharing was “not an alliance” but an “understanding to defeat the BJP”.

“We will contest from Majuli and support the Congress and Raijor Dal in all other seats,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BJP and its allies are contesting all five seats. BJP ally United People’s Party, Liberal (UPPL) announced two candidates for the Gossaigaon and Tamulpur constituencies, which fall under the Bodo Territorial Region. These fell vacant after the deaths of the sitting MLAs.

While the AIUDF has not announced its candidate list, party leaders said that they will contest at least from Bhabanipur.

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