Congress and AGP locked in direct contest in flood-prone dists

Large dams and flood problems are campaign issues both for the Congress and AGP locked in direct contest in most of the six assembly seats in flood-prone Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts which go to the polls on April 4.

Last Updated: Apr 01, 2011, 16:08 PM IST

Lakhimpur: Large dams and flood
problems are campaign issues both for the Congress and AGP
locked in direct contest in most of the six assembly seats in
flood-prone Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts which go to the
polls on April 4.

The constituencies of Dhakuakhana, Bihpuria, Lakhimpur
and Jonai on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra which
along with its tributaries Subansari, Ranganadi and Dikrong
are responsible for the havoc caused by annual flooding will
witness direct contest.

Triangular contest would be witnessed in Naoboicha and
Dhemaji.

The Congress, which won four of the seats and
independents the remaining two in the last elections, is
finding the going tough with people asking uncomfortable
questions about the perennial floods, erosion, poor roads,
lack of proper education and medical facilities.

The Congress, however, is upbeat of not only retaining
the seats, but also gaining both Naoboicha, where the sitting
independent MLA Sanjay Rai is now contesting as a party
candidate, and Jonai.

Prominent candidates battling it out to retain their
seats are Culture and Sports Minister Bharat Chandra Narah
from Dhakuakhana, controversial former Congress MP Mani Kumar
Subba`s brother Sanjay Rai Subba from Naoboicha, firebrand
anti-big dams protagonist and independent Bhubon Pegu from
Jonai and vocal Congress MLA Bhupen Kumar Borah.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to address
a campaign rally in Dhakuakhana for Narah where he is likely
to address the issue of large dams and development.

Narah claimed that the region had witnessed
considerable development during the last ten years of
Congress rule and people have realised that if the party came
to power, their conditions would further improve.

The opposition AGP and BJP along with independents,
however, have made the construction of big dams on Subansiri
river a major issue and were also highlighting the Congress
government`s `failure` to solve the annual flooding.

AGP President Chandramohan Patowary said, "the
Congress is immune to the problems of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji
where people face untold miseries every year due to floods.
"Now they are adding to their misery by allowing construction
of a large dam on the river Subansiri."

The constituents mainly comprise a predominant
Scheduled Tribe population of Mising and Sonowal Kacharis
along with an influential section of Assamese Muslims,
Nepalese, Bengalis, Assamese caste Hindus and Ahoms.

In Dhakuakhana, Narah, who won comfortably in 2006
polling 43.18 per cent, is locked in a direct contest with
AGP`s Naba Chandra Doley and a close contest is expected.

In Naoboicha, a triangular contest is on the cards
with Congress`s Sanjay Rai Subba having an edge over his AGP
rival Phanidhar Boruah and independent Sultan Ahmed who is
expected to get a substantial chunk of the constituency`s
minority vote.

In Bihpuria, sitting Congress MLA Bhupen Kumar Bora is
locked in a direct contest with AGP`s Kesharam Bora while in
Lakhimpur it will be a show of strength between the two
parties where sitting Congress MLA Ghana Buragohain will clash
with AGP`s former minister Utpal Dutta with the regional party
having an edge.

In Dhemaji, a triangular contest is in the offing with
sitting Congress MLA Sumita Doley Patir facing a tough fight
from AGP`s Parmananda Sonowal and BJP`s Sailen Sonowal.
In Jonai, sitting independent MLA Bhubon Pegu, who has
been at the forefront anti-dam agitation, is also locked in a
direct contest with Congress`s Pradan Baruah and has an
advantage in the forthcoming polls.

PTI