DIBRUGARH: With barely a week left for the first phase of in the state, the saffron party is still battling internal dissent over the choice of candidates in some seats.
One such seat is the tea tribe-dominated Moran assembly constituency in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district where BJP has once again given the party ticket to sitting MLA Chakradhar Gogoi whose candidature was fiercely opposed by local BJP leaders and workers.
Days before the names of the candidates were announced by the party top brass, there were daily demonstrations by BJP party workers demanding replacement of the incumbent MLA.
Slogans of “Chakradhar hatao, BJP bachao” were openly raised by party workers who threatened to quit the party if Gogoi was not replaced by a new face. The allegations against Gogoi were of corruption and neglecting the welfare of the constituency during his 5-year term.
In view of the dissent against Gogoi, it was assumed that BJP will project party spokesperson Subhash Dutta or Dibrugarh Development Authority chairperson Akhim Hazarika as its candidate from Moran but ultimately the party high command once again put their faith in Gogoi by nominating him as the candidate.
In the 2016 assembly election, Gogoi making his debut from the Moran assembly seat had surprised everyone by defeating Congress warhorse and former Union DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar by a margin of 16,231 votes.
This time, BJP will be involved in a triangular contest with Congress and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP). While last time the battle of BJP was against Ghatowar senior, this time it will be against Ghatowar junior as Congress has nominated Pranjal Ghatowar, the son of Paban Singh Ghatowar, as the candidate from Moran. Paban Singh Ghatowar’s wife, Jibantara, is also an ex-MLA from Moran having won the seat thrice in 2004 (bypoll), 2006 and 2011.
AJP has projected Sanjib Changmai, a former leader of the All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu), as its candidate. Other candidates in the ring are Mohini Mohan Ligira of Raijor Dal and independents Raphael Kujur and Eliash Sichan.
Interestingly, both AJP and Raijor Dal have pitched their own candidates in the seat despite having a pre-poll understanding to fight together as an united regional front. Similarly, Kujur, who recently resigned as secretary from AJP after being denied ticket from Moran, has thrown his hat in the ring as an Independent candidate.
The Moran constituency, which is dominated by tea garden voters, has traditionally been a Congress stronghold. Since 1951, Congress has won the seat 11 times, AGP twice and once each by BJP, Indira Congress (INC-I) and Independent.
“This time, it will be tough 3-cornered fight among BJP, Congress and AJP. The BJP nominee is facing strong dissidence within the party which has queered the pitch.
The likelihood of disgruntled party supporters voting for the opposition candidates cannot be ruled out,” said Jiban Jyoti Gogoi, a prominent citizen from Moran.