Why a tiny hamlet is the power centre | india | Hindustan Times
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Why a tiny hamlet is the power centre

It boasts of the most idyllic tea estates in Assam and is also the state's unofficial power centre, writes Rahul Karmakar.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2006 19:21 IST

Chabua — which means "sowing tea" — boasts of the most idyllic estates in Assam that produce the cup that cheers.

It is also the state's unofficial power centre.

Candidates contesting the Chabua seat are insignificant in Assam's larger political scenario. But the constituency matters. For, it houses a humble village with an awe-inspiring address — that of Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua.

During elections, all roads usually lead to Jerai Chokoliboria.

Many political leaders make it a point to visit the ancestral home of the rebel leader, who is like an invisible puppeteer in the electoral drama in Brahmaputra Valley.

There have been allegations that the Ulfa chief's kin in fluence parties to field candidates of their choice.

Members of Barua's family deny the allegations. Quite understandably, Jerai has been showered with everything a village possibly wants — smooth metalled road, electricity, school, et al. A soccer stadium is also being constructed at a frenetic pace.

The shadow of Paresh Barua notwithstanding, it all boils down to the ethnic composition for the ballot battle. Chabua has 1,31,000 voters with the tea tribe community comprising 58,000. The Mataks — the community to which the Ulfa supremo belongsnumber around 40,000.

"With a candidate representing the tea community, the Congress has been winning this constituency," said Amarendra Barua, a resident of Chabua town.