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Sun, 16 Jun 2019

Northeast Today

It’s women power on display in prestigious Guwahati seat, between BJP’s Queen Ojha and Congress’ Bobeeta Sarma

It’s women power on display in prestigious Guwahati seat, between BJP’s Queen Ojha and Congress’ Bobeeta Sarma
April 22
17:55 2019

NET Bureau

The most prestigious among the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam is state capital Guwahati, the ancient Pragjyotishpur which was the capital of the Kamrup kingdom. Guwahati’s electorate, however, has also been very fickle, and political pundits have often been flummoxed by their choices.

While Guwahati has never allowed one single party to gain political monopoly over it, the large constituency spread over both banks of the Brahmaputra has also rebuffed many stalwarts, including Assam’s favourite bard Bhupen Hazarika. The BJP had bagged the seat in the last two elections in 2009 and 2014, and it is fighting hard to score a hattrick.

But the saffron party, which replaced its veteran Bijoya Chakraborty this time to beat anti-incumbency, is facing a tough challenge from the Congress. With the contest being a two-cornered one this time, the Congress is hoping that Guwahati’s electorate, which has never allowed one party to score a hattrick, will stay true to its reputation. The BJP, on the other hand, wants to script political history by upsetting this tradition.

Bijoya Chakraborty, who won this seat for the BJP for the first time in 1999, served as junior water resources minister in the Vajpayee government. In 2004, the BJP decided to replace her with Assam’s popular icon Bhupen Hazarika. But Guwahati’s electorate stunned the BJP by rejecting Hazarika and electing the lesser-known and lesser-popular Kirip Chaliha.

In 2009, the BJP fielded Chakraborty again while the Congress decided to field Robin Bordoloi, the son of Assam’s first chief minister and political stalwart Gopinath Bordoloi. Chakraborty wrested the seat back for her party, albeit by a narrow margin of a little less than 12,000 votes. But in 2014, Chakraborty won by a huge margin of more than 3.15 lakh votes.

Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency comprises 10 Assembly constituencies – Dudhnai, Boko, Chaygaon, Palasbari, Jalukbari, Dispur, Guwahati East, Guwahati West, Hajo and Barkhetri. Save for Boko and Chaygaon – both Muslim-majority constituencies- which the Congress bagged in the 2016 Assembly polls, the rest of the Assembly seats are held by the BJP and one (Guwahati West) by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is an ally of the BJP.

Jalukbari Assembly seat is the fief of BJP strongman Himanta Biswa Sarma who has been campaigning vigorously for Queen Ojha, his party’s candidate from this seat. Ojha and the BJP are banking quite a lot on Sarma, who is known for his formidable political skills.

Source: Swarajya

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