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Assam: Cong, BJP locked in keen tussle

April 17, 2004 17:23 IST

The Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party are locked in a battle of wits with the once-powerful regional party Asom Gana Parishad.

The AGP has been pushed to the brink in the six parliamentary constituencies in Assam going to polls in the first phase on April 20.

The AGP is likely to put up limited opposition in five of the six constituencies barring Kokraihar (Scheduled Tribe), where sitting independent Member of Parliament Sansuma Khungur Bwismuthiary has an edge over his rivals.

The six constituencies -- Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Mangaldai, Gauhati and Tezpur -- all in lower and central Assam have 48 contestants in the fray.

Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided in the first phase are Assamese cultural icon Dr Bhupen Hazarika of the BJP from Guwahati, lottery baron Moni Kumar Subba of Congress along with media and construction baron G L Agarwal from Tezpur and former Assam home minister Bhrigu Kumar Phukan of the AGP.

Dr Jayashree Goswami Mahanta, wife of former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta is an independent candidate from Dhubri along with Jabeen Borbhuyan who has the rare distinction of being BJP's sole women Muslim candidate in the country.

The prestigious Guwahati constituency with eleven candidates in the fray is the highpoint of Assam polls. A straight fight is expected between Hazarika and former Congress MP Kirip Chaliha in this constituency.

Chaliha is leaving no stone unturned to cause a major upset in the BJP stable while AGP's Bhrigu Kumar Phukan, who returned to the party he helped establish after a long hiatus, is expected to make inroads into the vote-banks of both the major contenders.

Tezpur Parliamentary constituency will also witness an interesting contest between two barons -- Moni Kumar Subba of Congress and G L Agarwal of BJP with AGP's Padma Hazarika expected to play a minimal role.

Dhubri, which borders Bangladesh, promises an interesting contest with Congress denying ticket to the sitting MP Abdul Hamid and nominating Anwar Hussain.

The traditional Congress strongholds of Barpeta and Mangaldoi constituencies are not expected to create much flutter with the party maintaining an edge over its rivals -- both BJP and AGP.

In Barpeta, sitting Congress MP A F Golam Osmani will battle it out with Ranjit Thakuria of BJP and Kumar Deepak Das of AGP.

In Mangaldoi, sitting Congress MP Madhab Rajbongshi has locked horns with former BJP state unit president Narayan Chandra Borkokoty and AGP's Apurba Kumar Bhattacharjee, a student leader with the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad.

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