Nagaon: Two-time former Assam
chief minister Prafulla Mahanta, who is pitted against
influential Congress minister Rockybul Hussain in Samarguri
constituency in Nagaon district, is confident of emerging
Mahanta, who created political history in 1985 by
becoming the country`s youngest chief minister, is also
hopeful of the AGP emerging as the single largest party in the
April 11 election and eventually forming a non-Congress
government in the state.
AGP`s most prominent face, Mahanta, who spearheaded
the anti-foreigners stir in Assam in the early 80s, is
contesting from two seats - his native place Bahrampur and
Samurguri. But it is the latter which has attracted most
attention and for a good reason.
Mahanta`s opponent Hussian, whom he is fighting for
the first time, is not only a Congress heavyweight, but is
perceived very close to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi along with
another senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Mahanta claims, "I stand a good chance of defeating
Rockybul Hussain, the forest minister, who has unleashed a
reign of terror in the constituency."
His prognosis is seconded by many people in the
constituency. Among them is Promod Bora, a college teacher,
who said, "Mahanta`s courteous nature has brought him close to
people which can very well be reflected in the poll outcome."
The AGP has flooded the Election Commission with
complaints of Hussain masterminding attacks on its supporters
by Congress workers, alleging at least 10 partymen had been
injured in the assaults.
In the other seat, where he is being challenged by
Congress nominee Suraj Bora, a surrendered ULFA cadre, who
allegedly has a criminal background, is expecting a cakewalk
winning from there since 1991.
Hussain has won twice from the seat which has a
predominant Muslim population constituting more than 50 per
cent of the 1,28,642 voters. But this time he is facing an
uncertain outcome up against a formidable candidate like
Hussain, who owns private T V `Nagaon Talks`, has been
barred by the EC for airing programmes in the two
constituencies after Mahanta filed a complaint that the
channel was manifestly supporting the Congress nominee.
Hussain is banking on his performance, claiming, "I
have worked tirelessly for the people of the constituency
during the last 10 years of our regime."
Denying any attempt on his part to harm AGP
supporters, the minister called Mahanta an "outsider" and one
"who is bound to be shown the door".
The other constituency in the district Nagaon will
witness a multi-cornered contest between the sitting AGP MLA
Girin Baruah and his Congress nominee Durlav Chamua, All India
United Democratic Front contestant Nurul Amin Choudhury and
BJP`s Deva Kumar Saikia.
AGP nominee Baruah, a former minister in the Prafulla
Mahanta cabinet, has won from Nagaon since 1996 which is
traditionally regarded as an AGP bastion.
With more than 70 per cent of the electorate being
Muslims, Baruah will face a stiff opposition from Choudhury, a
Muslim, apart from Chamua and Saikia.
Chamua, a member of the Koch Rajbonshi community, who
has been nominated by the Congress for the first time, feels
that the developmental schemes launched by the government will
help him win.
"There is a noticeable change in Nagaon with better roads
and other facilities," he claimed.
The Congress has received a shot in the arm when star
campaigner and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed a
huge election rally in the district where people participated
in large numbers despite a bandh called by the ULFA.