Around half of the 40 candidates announced in the Congress’ first list for the Assam Assembly polls are fresh faces, while 15 per cent of them are women and five per cent Muslim nominees.
The main opposition party late on Saturday night released the first list of 40 candidates for the 47 Assembly constituencies that are going to the polls in Assam in the first phase on March 27. According to the list, announced by Congress’ Central Election Committee in-charge and party General Secretary Mukul Wasnik, six women – Sibamoni Bora (Batadroba), Roselina Tirkey (Serupathar), Bismita Gogoi (Khumtai), Pallabi Gogoi (Teok), Angkita Dutta (Amguri) and Pranatee Phukan (Naharkatia) and two Muslim candidates – Mohammad Nurul Huda (Rupohihat) and Rakibul Hussain (Samaguri) – were given party tickets.
In the first list, six of the 19 sitting MLAs including Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia and Rajya Sabha member and state party President Ripun Bora would fight the Assembly polls from Nazira and Gohpur constituencies, respectively. Saikia is the son of late Assam Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia.
Congress leaders in Guwahati said that the party would consult with the family members of late three-time Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to decide the nominee for Titabor constituency, which was held by Gogoi till he died last year.
Eastern Assam’s Golaghat seat was held by former Congress PWD minister and party’s member of the outgoing house Ajanta Neog who quit the party to contest the polls on a BJP ticket, while former Asom Gana Parishad candidate Bitupan Saikia, who joined the BJP after being defeated by Neog in the 2016 polls switched over to the Congress and was given a party ticket.
Besides Bitupan Saikia in Golaghat, the Congress has also nominated former BJP MP from Tezpur, Ram Prasad Sarma, who joined the Congress a year ago, in Barchalla seat. In the tribal reserved Majuli seat, the Congress has renominated Rajib Lochan Pegu who had represented it for three consecutive terms since 2001 but lost the seat to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in the 2016 polls. BJP candidate Sonowal again will contest the polls against Pegu from the same seat.
The Congress, which was in power in the state for 15 years (2001-2016) until the BJP-led alliance came to power in 2016, has formed a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) with three Left parties – CPI-M, CPI and CPI-ML – as well as the All India United Democratic Front AIUDF, the Anchalik Gana Morcha, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), three regional parties having a political base among the Muslims and indigenous people.
The Congress had gone solo in the previous Assembly election in Assam in 2016, securing 26 seats in the 126-member Assembly. The Assam polls would be held in three phases on March 27 (47 seats), April 1 (39 seats) and April 6 (40 seats). The results will be declared on May 2.