Congress eyes paradise lost

The stage is set for a high voltage contest between Congress warhorse and president of the Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Paban Singh Ghatowar, and young Sarbananda Sonowal of the AGP, the sitting MP.
While the Congress is trying to regain its lost fortress with Ghatowar again deciding to use the trade union platform to garner votes from the tea community, the AGP — the main Opposition particularly after the reunification — is determined to retain the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat.
Since Independence, Dibrugarh has always been considered a Congress bastion. Ghatowar has been representing the seat since 1991 and was seen as an “invincible person” for the Congress in Dibrugarh that has a sizeable number of tea tribe voters.
The party, however, not only lost the seat during the 2004 parliamentary elections, but Ghatowar was pushed to a pathetic third spot. Kamakhya Prasad Tasa of the BJP came second.
This time, because of the seat-sharing arrangements between the AGP and the BJP, the BJP did not field any candidate in Dibrugarh.
The seasoned Ghatowar, who is trying to regain his “lost paradise,” is busy campaigning. He is seen almost everywhere these days along with either his parliamentary secretary and legislator wife Jibantara, or the state water resources and labour minister, Prithibi Majhi.
Ghatowar’s main campaign manager is power and industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi, who is a spokesman for the PCC and the government.
Other Congress MLAs, including Pranati Phukon, Rajendra Prasad Singh and Rameswar Dhanowar, too, have been accompanying Ghatowar on one occasion or the other.
The Assembly segments that come under the Lok Sabha seat are Moran, Dibrugarh, Lahowal, Duliajan, Tinsukia, Tingkhong, Naharkatia, Margherita and Digboi.
There are nearly five lakh voters from the mainstream Assamese community, three lakh from the tea community and another three lakh comprising Bengalis, Hindi-speaking people, Nepalese and others. There are around 80,000 voters from the minority community.
Unlike last time, the constituency is witnessing a straight contest between Ghatowar and Sonowal, with a total of 10 candidates in the fray.
While Ratul Gogoi of the CPI and Romen Chandra Borthakur of the NCP are expected to take away some of Sonowal’s votes, candidates like Gangaram Koul of the CPI (M-L) and Francis Dhan of the National People’s Party (NPP) will make some dent in Ghatowar’s vote bank.
However, the fight will be basically a direct one to one between Ghatowar and Sonowal.