Promises, allegations, notices and more as Himanta faces first polls as Assam CM

  • Himanta Biswa Sarma assured more development projects and schemes for the constituencies if the party wins.
The CM’s assurances and promises led the opposition Congress to file two complaints with Election Commission complaining about violation of the model code of conduct and seeking a ban on his campaign.(PTI File Photo)
The CM’s assurances and promises led the opposition Congress to file two complaints with Election Commission complaining about violation of the model code of conduct and seeking a ban on his campaign.(PTI File Photo)
Published on Oct 29, 2021 11:34 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, Guwahati

Ever since he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2015 after a long and successful stint in Congress, Himanta Biswa Sarma has been its star campaigner in Assam elections, crisscrossing the state and attracting large crowds with his oratory skills.

Sarma played a crucial role in the BJP’s first stint in power in Assam in 2016 and also in the party’s impressive performance in the 2019 general elections. Earlier this year, after the BJP returned to power for a second consecutive time, Sarma was entrusted with the chief minister’s post replacing predecessor Sarbananda Sonowal.

On October 30, he will face his first poll test since assuming the CM’s chair in May when voting will take place in five assembly seats - Bhabanipur, Thawra, Mariani, Tamulpul and Gossaigaon - where byelections are being held. And as in previous elections, Sarma has put on his campaign hat and is addressing four to six election meetings daily.

“Remember these are bye-elections and it won’t decide the formation of government. Here voters will only choose who will represent them. So, won’t it be prudent to vote for the candidate from the party, which is already in power in Guwahati?” Sarma said at an election meeting in Thawra on Tuesday.

Comparing the BJP-led coalition government to a productive cow, the CM has told voters how it would give lots of milk if they vote the party’s candidate and how a vote to other parties would be a waste. Sarma assured more development projects and schemes for the constituencies if the party wins.

The CM’s assurances and promises led the opposition Congress to file two complaints with Election Commission complaining about violation of the model code of conduct and seeking a ban on his campaign. In response, the EC had issued a notice to the CM seeking an explanation by Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday, the Congress filed another complaint with the commission seeking lodging of a first information report (FIR) against Sarma and removal of district officials in Gossaigaon “for blatantly and blindly favouring the ruling party”.

“The actions of the CM reflect as if he is provoking and teasing the Election Commission and its officials by suggesting that he is above and beyond the law or the control of the election commission,” the complaint read.

Reacting to the Congress allegations, Sarma said on Tuesday that the opposition party doesn’t want implementation of development projects mentioned in the state’s budget. “It is their nature to file complaints (against me) in each election,” he commented.

During the last assembly polls held this year, based on a complaint by Congress, EC barred Sarma from taking part in campaigns for a day.

“I would advise Sarma to get himself tested outside the state. The CM is claiming BJP’s lotus will give lots of milk. It’s such a laughable matter. We have never heard or seen a lotus giving milk,” opposition All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president Badruddin Ajmal said at an election meeting on Monday.

Two of the five seats where byelections will be held, Tamulpur and Gossaigaon, fell vacant due to deaths of opposition Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) and ruling United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL) legislators from Covid-19 related complications.

The other three seats are going to polls as two Congress MLAs, from Mariani and Thawra, and an AIUDF MLA from Bhabanipur resigned from their parties and joined the BJP.

At present the ruling BJP has 59 MLAs, UPPL 5 and Asom Gana Parishad 9 while opposition Congress has 27, AIUDF 15, BPF-3, CPM 1 and newly floated Raijor Das has 1 seat in the 126-member house.

Byelection to the Majuli seat, which fell vacant after Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal resigned last month, will take place later.

A total of 796,456 voters (403,374 men and 393,078 women) in the five seats will be able cast the votes on October 30. Apart from them, there are also 3,165 service voters. A total of 31 candidates are in the fray in the five seats.

1. Gossaigaon:

Total voters: 155,796

Prominent candidates: Jowel Tudu (Congress), Jiron Basumatary (UPPL), Dhruba Kumar Brahma Narzary (BPF), Khairul Anam Khandakar (AIUDF)

Reason for bye-election: Death of sitting BPF MLA Majendra Narzary

Winning margin in last election: 10,343 votes

2. Bhabanipur:

Total voters: 125,603

Prominent candidates: Phanidhar Talukdar (BJP), Sailendra Das (Congress), Jubbar Ali (AIUDF)

Reason for bye-election: Sitting AIUDF MLA Phanidhar Talukdar resigning and joining ruling BJP

Winning margin in last election: 3227 votes

3. Tamulpur:

Total voters: 217,432

Prominent election: Bhaskar Dahal (Congress), Jolen Daimary (UPPL)

Reason for bye-election: Death of sitting UPPL MLA Leho Ram Boro

Winning margin in last election: 32,183 votes

4. Mariani:

Total voters: 95,938

Prominent candidates: Rupjyoti Kurmi (BJP), Luhit Konwar (Congress)

Reason for byelection: Sitting Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi resigning and joining ruling BJP

Winning margin in last election: 2231 votes

5. Thawra:

Total voters: 115,971

Prominent candidates: Sushanta Borgohain (BJP), Monuranjan Konwar (Congress)

Reason for bye-election: Sitting Congress MLA Sushanata Borgohain resigning and joining ruling BJP

Winning margin in last election: 2006 votes

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is an assistant editor based in Guwahati. He covers all eight states of North-East and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times .

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022