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Poll fever grips Assam, parties
Enaxi Saikai Barua in Guwahati | March 19, 2006 19:43 IST
Violent protests over choice of party candidates, seat sharing and adjustments in various combinations and permutations has dominated the scenario in the run up to first phase of assembly elections in Assam on April three.
As the process for filing of nomination papers by over 500 candidates from political parties and independents for 65 seats in the first phase has ended, intense resentment on choice of candidates was nagging both the ruling Congress and opposition parties preparing to go to the hustings.
Campaigning in a visible manner therefore was yet to pick up as grassroot party supporters are more interested in venting their ire for not getting candidates of their choice than in soliciting votes for their party.
The Assam Congress headquarters, Rajiv Bhavan, in Guwahati virtually turned into a battleground after supporters of Congress party men clashed, resulting in injuries to many.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, too, witnessed a similar situation with personal security officers of party N-E incharge V Shatish's opening fire to protect him. The PSOs' firing injured two when party workers angered by the choice of a candidate tried to attack him at the party office in Guwahati.
The main opposition Asom Gana Parishad was also not spared by workers who demonstrated at the party headquarters, shouting slogans and resorting to sit-in. Protests also echoed in all parties district units where grassroot workers ransacked party offices, tore party flags, burnt effigies of their leaders and threatened to ensure the defeat of the candidates they opposed.
Sitting and former legislators representing their constituencies for several terms were sore with their parties denying them ticket and replacing them with new hopefuls who were either 'outsiders' or were not actively involved there. The supporters of Education Minister Hem Prakash Narayan demonstrated on the National Highway 37 at Dergaon by blocking traffic and burning tires to register protest after he was denied ticket.
Former minister and until recently president of the Janata Dal (United) state unit, Rashidul Haque, who joined the Congress and was the surprise party candidate from Jamunamukh was not allowed by his former party workers from filing his nomination papers on Saturday.
Turning renegade, Congress' Bashiuddin Lashkar filed his nomination papers as an independent, while another three Assam Pradesh Congress Committee office bearers turned rebels and submitted papers against official contestants.
Six-time winner Congress legislator Dileswar Tanti, after being denied a ticket, changed his party to file his papers as a Nationalist Congress Party nominee from Tinsukia. PCC secretary Kishore Bhattacharya joined the NCP and Dibrugarh district Congress vice-president Pradip Buragohain filed his papers as an independent from Naharkatia.
Rebellion also surfaced in the AGP when its veteran leader and former minister Biraj Sarma deprived of his Guwahati (East) seat quit the party he founded and filed his nomination as an independent.
The recently formed Assam United Democratic Front also split with a section of the party functionaries floating a new party -- United Democratic Front (Progressive) as party leader Badruddin Azmal had made the AUDF a one man show by ignoring the other constituents and the cause of the indigenous Assamese Muslims.
Unusual and complicated combination of seat sharing and adjustments are another peculiarity of the elections this time. Political parties have entered into arrangements with some on certain seats, while in different constituencies having seat adjustments with others.
While 'friendly arrangements' in some constituencies was another speciality, the same parties are to be each others rivals in others. Execution of non-bailable warrants was also engaging the state election office in monitoring their execution on a day-to-day basis.