A keen battle is on the cards in the eight constituencies in Sonitpur district where the fate of several prominent candidates like Speaker Tanka Bahdur Rai, irrigation minister Nurjamal Sarkar, BJP state unit President Ranjit Dutta and former AGP President Brindabon Goswami will be decided.
There is no wave evident in favour of any particular party or candidate in the constituencies of Tezpur, Dhekiajuli, Barchalla, Bihali, Gohpur, Sootea, Rangpara and Biswanath in the second largest district of the state where the Congress had won four while the BJP and AGP two seats each in the last polls.
Located on the north bank of river Brahmaputra, the constituencies have a mixed electorate, totalling 11,24,949, comprising Assamese, Muslims, Nepali, Bengalis, Bodos, Scheduled Castes and Adivasi tea tribes who are keeping their choice of representative close to their hearts.
The constituencies will witness multi-cornered contests with prominent Congress, AGP, BJP, CPM and even the fledgling All India Trinamool Congress candidates battling it out among 55 candidates in the poll scheduled to be held in the first phase.
The high-profile Tezpur constituency, dubbed as Assam's cultural capital, is likely to witness a four-pronged contest with sitting AGP MLA Brindabon Goswami being given a run for his money by political greenhorns Ritu Baran Sarmah of BJP and Rajen Barthakur of Congress along with once a political heavyweight and former Congress Minister Bijit Saikia who is now contesting on an AITMC ticket.
Goswami, who was projected as the AGP chief ministerial candidate in the 2006 Assembly polls had won comfortably, polling 50.75 per cent of the total votes.
Though a large section of the electorate are openly questioning his contribution towards the constituency, Goswami is oozing confidence and says he will win comfortably as he "always had the best interests of the people in mind and tried his best to do what he could being in the opposition".
The BJP and Congress candidates, both in their early 40's, have the advantage of age on their side with both appealing to the youth - both rural and urban -to help them in "bringing about a positive change and make Tezpur a model constituency of the country".
The dark horse of the electoral battle could, however, be Bijit Saikia, the once powerful industry minister in the Hiteswar Saikia cabinet, who, miffed at being denied a Congress ticket joined the AITMC.
"I had always been a loyal Congress supporter, but they ignored my contribution and as the people of my constituency wanted me to serve them, I joined the AITMC which also had its origin in the Congress," Saikia said.