The Tezpur constituency in Assam is suddenly hogging the limelight -- thanks to the 'Bard of Assam' and the legend of the North-East Bhupen Hazarika.india Updated: Apr 17, 2004 17:58 IST
The Tezpur constituency in Assam is suddenly hogging the limelight -- thanks to the 'Bard of Assam' and the legend of the North-East Bhupen Hazarika. The best known Assamese face in the world, who has joined the saffron brigade, would be contesting the seat this time.
But Hazarika may not have a cakewalk as barring 1977's Janata wave the Congress has never lost the seat.
The regional Asom Gana Parishad, which has expressed its disbelief and dismay at Hazarika's decision, has decided to put up a big fight as the Congress has doubled its efforts to retain its North-East glory. The seat was held by Congress in the last elections.
In 1999, Moni Kumar Subba of Congress had defeated Ram Prasad Sarmah of BJP by 25,706 votes in a 15-cornered contest. In 1998, Moni Kumar Subba had drubbed the then sitting Member of Parliament Iswar Prasanna Hazarika by 130,349 votes.
The seat had gone to Iswar Prasanna Hazarika in 1996 when he defeated Harsha Bahadur Biswakarma of AGP by 6,719 votes while in 1991, the seat had gone to Congress, whose Swarup Upadhyay had trounced Purna Narayan Sinha of AGP by 10,6,317 votes.
A singer, poet, composer, actor, director and producer, Bhupen Hazarika's plunge into BJP-oriented politics is not without reason. "Art should become an instrument of social change," he says adding that he wants to improve the situation in North-East and use BJP as a tool.
Many hardcore Assamese have cried foul over his decision, but a determined Hazarika hasn't cared as he stands "convinced" with the performance of NDA Govt. Born and brought up in Tezpur, the balladeer is tipped to contest from here on BJP ticket in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
It's not his maiden foray into politics. He had been an Independent MLA from Assam before too. And this time also, he was not short of offers. In fact, regional Assam Gana Parishad had offered him Tezpur seat to contest, and otherwise, a nomination to Rajya Sabha in April. But being a man of conviction, he turned it down in favour of BJP.
The constituency has 9% Mulsims, 6% Scheduled Castese and 11% Scheduled Tribes. Jalia Kaibartas(3%) are prominent among the Scheduled Castes and Kacharis (6%) among the tribes.
The most dominant group in this constituency, however, is the Tea Garden population which according to the best information availavle is in excess of 20% here.
Nepalis are also in larnumbers. Assamese Hindus vastly outnumber the Bengali Hindus.
First Published: Mar 25, 2004 10:52 IST