CPI ready to reclaim red fort with AGP aid | india | Hindustan Times
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CPI ready to reclaim red fort with AGP aid

The estranged AGP and CPI are friends once more, raising Left hopes of reclaiming "Assam's island of red flags", writes Rahul Karmakar.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2006 16:00 IST

This town off NH 37 has many claims to fame.

Once the throbbing capital of the powerful Ahom dynasty that ruled Assam for 600 years, it boasts of the Shivadol, the tallest Shiva temple anywhere in the world; it is an industrial hub with the ONGC's Assam Assets run from nearby Nazira.

It was also the cradle of the proscribed Ulfa — it was formed in 1979 at the Rang Ghar here, a symbol of Ahom pride.

However not everything is right in this Left bastion, one of the last in Assam.

But for 1983 and 2001, traditionally Sivasagar has been a CPI stronghold.

The veteran Left leader Promod Gogoi went on to become the chief minister in the AGP-led coalition in 1996 after winningfrom this seat. However, the CPI and the AGP parted ways in 2001 and Sivasagar was claimed by Congress's Pranab Gogoi.

The estranged AGP and CPI are friends once more, raising the Left hopes of reclaiming "Assam's island of red flags" in the upcoming polls.

Gogoi is confidence personified: "We have been fighting for the masses, the landless and the hundreds of workers in the oil installations. It should pay dividends." The CPI, obviously, is banking on an army of ONGC workers — and hundreds of locals demanding jobs in the oil sector—to see him through.

But so is sitting MLA Pranab Gogoi, who also promises to deliver Sivasagar from potholes, waterlogging and other civic problems.

Among his challengers is Pranabjit Chaliha, who had pipped Promod Gogoi for the second spot in 2001. Chaliha, leader of the Jatiya Aikya Manch and a former basketball player, iscandi the tallest date in fray.

The Left is also upbeat about the adjacent Nazira constituency that had been the domain of former chief minister Hiteswar Saikia's family.

Saikia's unabashed partiality to his constituency was like a "bank account" his successor and widow Hemoprova Saikia had cashed in on in 1996 and 2001.

"There has been only withdrawals and no deposits in that bank account," says a CPI campaigner.

"With hardly anything left, the account should be closed this election," he added.