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|October 26, 1999||
BJP vows electoral revenge for killing of candidate
The Bharatiya Janata Party is riding on a sympathy wave in Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency in Assam where the election was countermanded after the abduction and murder of BJP candidate Dr Pannalal Oswal last month.
Senior BJP leaders, including former Union minister Sushma Swaraj, are campaigning for Bimal Oswal, the eldest son of Dr Oswal.
The constituency, which goes to be polls on October 28, has the highest concentration of Muslims in the country (70 per cent of the 104.9 million electorate is Muslim), and it is a Congress stronghold. The Congress has not called in its top leaders on the campaign trail for Abdul Hamid who won the 1998 elections by over 200,000 votes.
The BJP brought its lone Muslim MP and Union minister Shahnawaj Hussain to campaign here. The party is also banking on a possible division in the Congress vote following the entry of rebel candidate Afzalur Rahman. Rahman was expelled from the Congress.
The BJP, which controls the Dhubri town committee, also has the backing of the United Peoples Party of Assam. The other candidates in the fray are Allaudin Sarkar of the Communist Party of India and the National Congress Party nominee Ahmed Hussain.
Dhubri is one of the five Lok Sabha constituencies where elections were postponed to October 28. The others are in Bihar -- Purnia Bhagalpur, Rajmahal and Khagaria.
Dhubri, situated on the banks of the Brahmaputra, is one of the most neglected constituencies of the country. A town, which served as a link between East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and the rest of the country till 1947, it once had a port, an international rail route and an airport. Today it is one of the most underdeveloped constituencies in the region.
The British exploited it as a vital trade link, using the port to send tea and wood down in small ships to the bigger ports in the Bay of Bengal through the Padma river (as the Brahmaputra is called in Bangladesh) before joining the Hooghly in Calcutta.
The railway had a direct line via Rongpur (now in Bangladesh) to Calcutta. It was disbanded after Partition. The town was forgotten after the Bangaigaon-Siliguri track linked the northeast with the rest of the country.
There were some half-hearted attempts to revive the town, but though the waterway exists, there is no organised ferry service. The port, the railway station and the aerodrome all lie abandoned.
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