The Kaliabor assembly constituency in Nagaon district has been one of the strongest Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) bastion.
From 1996 till date, the regional party has come out victorious from the constituency with flying colours. First, it was Gunin Hazarika (1996-2001, 2001-2006) and presently it’s the state minister of water resources Keshab Mahanta, who has won the last two elections in 2011 and 2016 and kept the AGP flag flying high. But, will he be able to repeat the same feat in 2021 as well?
“It won’t be easy for Keshab Mahanta as Congress’ Prashanta Saikia is also a popular face in the constituency and he is expected to provide a stiff competition to Mahanta,” said a Guwahati-based journalist from Kaliabor.
“The tea garden votes might turn out to be the deciding factor in Kaliabor and Prashanta Saikia seems to have an edge in the tea gardens of the area,” he further added.
It may be mentioned here that Kaliabor LAC has six major tea gardens which are- Amlokhi, Amoni, Salna, Sonari, Keliden and Kuthri.
“These six tea gardens will decide as to who wins and who loses,” he further said.
“The Congress, in its election manifesto, has declared that if the party is voted to power then it would raise the minimum wage of the tea garden labourers within 6 hours. This will certainly give the Congress an edge over BJP,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that the anti-CAA sentiments may also play a major factor during the election.
“The anti-CAA sentiments are still brewing in the constituency and a lot of people are stiff offended on Mahanta for not opposing it,” said Jayanta Hazarika, a local.
“People have chased him away from several places when the anti-CAA protests were at their peak in 2019,” he added.
Hazarika further said that Congress has able to break into several areas where the AGP vote share is high.
“In several places, where the AGP has had a stronghold for decades, the Congress has been able to make a breakthrough and I am sure a major chunk of AGP votes is going the Congress way. This gives Saikia an upper hand. However, as Mahanta has won the last two elections convincingly and is also the cabinet minister, he might have the last laugh,” Hazarika added.
Apart from Mahanta and Saikia, the third candidate from the constituency is Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP)’s Mukul Baruah.
“AJP is a new party and people are circumspect about it. So I don’t see Baruah making a direct impact,” further said Hazarika.
It may be mentioned here that in the 2016 Assam Assembly elections, the total percentage of voters in the Kaliabor Assembly Constituency was recorded as 86 per cent.
Keshab Mahanta won the seat by defeating Bindu Ganju of the Indian National Congress by a margin of 37990 votes.
The constituency goes to poll on March 27.