Nagaon: Where everyone thinks they have a chance of winning | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Nagaon: Where everyone thinks they have a chance of winning

Apr 10, 2024 05:48 PM IST

The history of Nagaon parliamentary seat shows that it has been a stronghold of three different parties at different stages.

Three Congress heavyweights from Assam — former ministers Pradyut Bordoloi and Rakibul Hussain and the party’s incumbent deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi — wanted to contest from the Nagaon Lok Sabha seat in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Nagaon: Congress candidate from the Nagaon Lok Sabha constituency Pradyut Bordoloi during his election campaign for the upcoming elections, at Phulaguri, in Nagaon district, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI) PREMIUM
Nagaon: Congress candidate from the Nagaon Lok Sabha constituency Pradyut Bordoloi during his election campaign for the upcoming elections, at Phulaguri, in Nagaon district, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI)

Bordoloi is the sitting MP from the seat, Gogoi had won twice from neighbouring Kaliabor (renamed Kaziranga after last year’s delimitation) in 2014 and 2019, and Hussain, the party’s deputy leader of opposition in the assembly, who has been elected from the Samaguri seat in Nagaon district five times consecutively since 2001.

The Congress leadership finally decided to hand the ticket to Bordoloi while Gogoi was made the candidate for Jorhat (a constituency his father, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, had represented thrice in Lok Sabha) and Hussain was given the ticket for Dhubri where All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief, Badruddin Ajmal, is the sitting MP.

But the desire by three Congress leaders to express interest in Nagaon, the most centrally located of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, is an indication of how sought after the constituency is.

“I am happy that the Congress leadership has reposed faith in me and given the ticket from Nagaon for a second time. Goodwill and support from all sections of voters in the constituency will help me secure another win,” Bordoloi said.

Apart from Congress, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) are also keen on this seat, making it one of the most keenly contested and where all parties think they have a good chance of getting the voters to their sides.

The history

The history of the Nagaon parliamentary seat shows that it has been a stronghold of three different parties at different stages. It was a Congress bastion from 1952 to the 1977 polls but from 1985 to 1998 Asom Gana Parishad candidate Muhi Ram Saikia won thrice from the seat.

In 1998, it briefly went to Congress again before BJP’s Rajen Gohain won it four times consecutively from 1999 to 2014. In 2014, BJP chose to give the ticket to local MLA Rupak Sharma but he lost to Congress’ Bordoloi by a margin of around 17,000 votes.

To wrest back the seat, this time the BJP decided to give the ticket to Suresh Borah, a former Congressman, who switched over to the party in November last year. The 53-year-old had unsuccessfully contested twice from the Barhampur assembly seat and was a former associate of the sitting Congress MP, Bordoloi, who will be his rival this time.

“The presence of so many people during the filing of nomination papers by Borah indicates that we will win by a huge margin. Congress is like an old note, which was discarded during demonetization. No one wants to accept such a note,” chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said while addressing a public meeting in Nagaon recently.

The impact of delimitation

Though the seat has never been won by a Muslim candidate, changed equations following last year’s delimitation of assembly and parliamentary seats in Assam, which saw the redrawing of boundaries of many constituencies, has altered voter dynamics in the seat.

Following the delimitation exercise, three new assembly seats, Dhing, Rupohihat and Samaguri, which have a significant minority population and were earlier part of the Koliabor seat (now renamed as Kaziranga), are now part of Nagaon. According to estimates, because of the redrawing of the constituency, the percentage of Muslim voters in Nagaon has gone up from 40% to 51%.

That’s the reason why the third prominent candidate from the seat, sitting MLA from Dhing, Aminul Islam of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a party which has considerable influence among Bengali-speaking Muslim voters in the state, would be a key contender in Nagaon this time.

Islam is one of the three candidates the party has fielded this time.

In 2014, AIUDF won three of the 14 seats in Assam, but in 2019 they won only one. The party did not contest from Nagaon five years ago as part of an understanding with Congress, which helped the latter to win the seat.

“BJP leaders in Assam claim that they don’t want Muslim votes and their policies haven’t helped people from the community in any way. Same is the case with the Congress candidate Bordoloi, who had praised the Centre’s last budget, and there were rumours that he would get a ticket from the BJP this time. But there’s no such speculation about me and I am confident of my victory. Minority people are aware of the false goodwill of BJP and Congress and won’t vote for them,” said Islam recently.

The BJP also seems aware that the main threat could be posed by AIUDF and not Congress. “I think the contest is between us and AIUDF. Barely a few hundred people are attending Congress meetings, while we see around 1000-1500 people are present in AIUDF gatherings,” said BJP candidate Suresh Bora.

In the end, in a seat where issues don’t seem to have much meaning among voters, it would be the profile of candidates and the number of voters they and their parties are able to attract that will hold the key to winning and losing in Nagaon.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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