The Congress and All India [ Images ] United Democratic Front will battle it out in the seven constituencies of Assam's minority-dominated Dhubri district bordering Bangladesh in the second phase of polling on April 11.
The district, which has the longest international riverine border of 134 km, is among the most densely-populated districts in the country with a predominant Muslim population, most of them immigrants from Bangladesh.
While the contest would be mainly between Congress and All India United Democratic Front, other parties such as Asom Gana Parishad, the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] and Bodoland Peoples Front along with some independents are likely to play a key role in most of the seats.
A total 56 candidates are in the fray in the 7 seats. The Congress appears to have an edge as two of the sitting independent members of legislative assembly -- Motiur Rahman Mondol from Mankachar and Mohibul Haque from Gauripur are contesting as its candidates.
The party is leaving no stone unturned to wrest Dhubri and Bilasipara(West) seats from AIUDF, who had won it last time round and is expected to give a tough fight, besides Bilasipara(East) from AGP and retaining Salmara (South) and Golakganj.
The issue of illegal infiltration of Bangladesh may not be a poll issue this time for ruling Congress and AIUDF, both of them depend heavily on this section of the electorate for their votes, but for the others, particularly BJP and AGP it is the most important one.
''The development work initiated by Congress during the last decade will go a long way in securing more seats for the party in these areas. Besides, the people of this district have always been loyal to the party,'' Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhubaneswar Kalita said.
Congress' cause would get a filip by the proposed campaigning by AICC president Sonia Gandhi [ Images ], he added. AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal [ Images ], has on the other hand alleged that there has been no development in the area.
''People have realised that they will have to bring in AIUDF to improve their condition''. Mankachar, billed as the most sensitive border constituency, will witness a triangular contest with sitting independent MLA Motiur Rahman now contesting on a Congress ticket. He will face two brothers - Galib Islam of AIUDF and Zabed Islam, an independent.
The Islam brothers, sons of late Congress minister Zehirul Islam, have pitted themselves against each other after the ruling party denied them tickets. Galib managed to enter the poll arena on a AIUDF ticket and Zabed, who had lost as a Congress candidate in the last polls by a narrow margin, is an independent contestant.
In neighbouring Salmara(south), Ajmal's 29-year old son Abdur Rahman is locked in a direct contest with sitting Congress MLA Wajed Ali Chowdhury and the scales are evenly tipped between them.
In 2006, Badruddin Ajmal had won the seat defeating Chowdhury but the latter wrested the seat in 2009 in a by-election following the AIUDF chief's election to Lok Sabha from Dhubri.
Chowdhury, making a bid to return to the assembly for the fourth term, had then defeated Abdur Rahman, who is now making all out efforts to win it back for AIUDF. Dhubri constituency too will witness a direct contest between the two parties and like Salamara, either could win it.
The AIDUF has this time given the ticket to new entrant Jahanuddin, while the Congress has fielded Najibul. In the erstwhile cultural hub of Gauripur, an interesting triangular contest is on with sitting independent MLA Mohibul Haque now contesting as a Congress candidate against Nizanur Rahman of AIUDF and three-time former AGP MLA Banendra Mushahary now on Bodoland Peoples' Front ticket.
There are a total 10 candidates in fray for the seat. In Golakgunj constituency, where the population comprises mostly of Hindus, Muslims and tribals, there will be a direct contest between sitting Congress MLA Abu Taher Bepari and the Bharatiya Janata Party's Ashwin Roy Sarkar [ Images ] with the former having a clear edge over five other candidates in the fray.
In Bilasipara (west) too there will be a keen contest between Ali Akbar Miah, former AGP MLA but fighting on a Congress ticket this time and sitting AIUDF MLA Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Rahman.
A twist has been added by BPF's Batendra Nath Brahma, father-in-law of Bodoland Territorial Council Chief Hagrama Mohilary.In Bilasipara (East) a triangular contest is on the cards between three time sitting AGP MLA Prashanta Kumar Barua, his niece Bharati Barua, contesting on a Congress ticket and AIUDF's Gul Akhtara Begum.