Travelling through Assam's battleground

By Gayatri B

Nowgong, Apr 20 : Ahead of the elections, travelling through Assam's battleground, one gets a feel of the political heat in the state. In different constituencies, amidst varying expectations and sentiments of the people, the performances of the politicians are being rated, discussed and debated. And here's how the scenario looks.

Bad roads and a broken school - shows the tardy pace of development in Congress's crorepati candidate's constituency. Mani Kumar Subba in his 11 years has been as elusive to his voters as he has been with us today while we tried to track him down."

"We have never seen him," says a village woman. Whereas, holding a poster of his, another little boy says, "This person is a king."

As one moves to the towns the resentment is more pronounced. "He doesn't know to speak any language properly," says one. We have been allowing a fool to rule us, no more," puts forth another local. But Mani Subba knows how to win elections. Just before elections, his party comes and distributes money to the voters but right after elections, he vanishes. The mood in the neighbouring constituency, however, is upbeat.

Kaliabor is in many ways Assam's real battleground. This is AGP's bastion, Prafulla Mahanta's homeground, Tarun Gogoi's turf and now his brother's and to take the battle on are the two crorepati brothers Sirajuddin and Badruddin Ajmal of AUDF - a party which threatens to change the political landscape of Assam.
With a 30 per cent minority population in the state Ajmal cannot be ignored.

"Our party is 85 per cent for the benefit of the minority. We are challenging Tarun Gogoi by contesting from this seat which was long misruled by Congress," says AUDF President, Badruddin Ajmal.

Not far from this battleground, it's the BJP which is in full bloom in Nowgaon. It is candidate Rajen Gohain expected to return for a third time.

"We will vote for Rajen Gohain, but he could have done more substantial work," says a local.
It's been an intensely political election this time where issues don't seem to matter. The rise of the AUDF and the alliance of the AGP-BJP has penetrated into Congress strongholds and could well throw up some surprises.