Dynastic politics may not have been witnessed in Assam’s earlier elections, but it has become a dominant feature in the 2011 Assembly polls with 26 kins of political leaders throwing their hats in the poll ring.
The ruling Congress has fielded maximum number of relatives of party leaders with 14 wives, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and even brothers battling it out along with aunts and cousins of other parties to enter the Assembly.
The BJP is more or less an exception fielding just one such candidate - a son of a late leader.
“We do not believe in dynastic politics, but have given a ticket to a son who has been found to be worthy of contesting on his own merit,” said BJP state unit president Ranjit Dutta.
The BJP has given ticket to Rajdeep Roy, a doctor by profession, and son of late BJP MLA Bimalangshu Roy, for the Silchar seat, who is locked in a contest with Sushmita Dev, the daughter of Congress heavyweight Santosh Mohan Dev.
In the last polls, the Silchar seat, considered to be Dev family’s fiefdom, was represented by former Union Minister’s wife Bithika Dev.
In the Barak Valley, another Congress son and sitting MLA of Algapur constituency Rahul Roy has been re-nominated by the party. Mr. Rahul is the son of Excise and Social Welfare Minister Gautam Roy.
The party has also given the ticket for the first time to Debabrata Saikia, son of former Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia, from Nazira which was earlier represented by his mother Hemoprova Saikia who lost in 2006.
Assam Pradesh Congress President Bhubaneswar Kalita said it is not that the Congress give tickets to kins blindly and almost all party candidates have worked their way up from the grassroot level.
“We not only look into their background but also into their achievements and their ability to win which decides selection of a candidate. Being merely a Congress leader’s wife, son or daughter does not mean a poll ticket is assured,” he said.
Tourism and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, contesting for the third successive term from Samaguri constituency, is the son of late Congress minister Nurul Hussain.
The Congress has nominated three other sons - sitting MLA from Mariani Rupjyoti Kurmi, son of first tea tribe woman minister late Rupam Kurmi, Klengdun Engti, son of sitting Diphu MP Biren Singh Engti from Bokajan and Chrisostum Tudu, son of former Minister Mithias Tudu from Gossaigaon.
Among other sons in the fray are Asom United Democratic Front supremo Badruddin Ajmal’s son Abdur Rehman from South Salmara, former AGP Assembly speaker late Ganesh Kutum’s son Shankar Jyoti Kutum contesting as an Independent from Gohpur while two sons of late Congress Minister Zehirul Islam — Ghalib Islam and Javed Islam - are contesting as rivals from the same Mancachar seat.
While Ghalib Islam is contesting on an AUDF ticket, Mr. Javed is contesting as an Independent.
Prominent wives in fray are Monika Bora, wife of former Congress Minister and sitting Gohpur MLA Ripun Bora who was expelled from the party after he was arrested allegedly for attempting to bribe a CBI official, from the same constituency on a Congress ticket, Upasana Gogoi, wife of sitting Khumtai AGP MLA Probin Gogoi who has opted out of the electoral race due to ill-health and sitting Congress MLA from Moran Jibontara Ghatowar, wife of Dibrugarh MP and veteran Congress leader Paban Singh Ghatowar.
Widows of three late leaders include PWD Minister and Congress MLA from Golaghat, wife of late minister Nagen Neog, sitting Nalbari AGP MLA Alaka Desai, wife of late minister Nagen Sarma and Congress aspirant from Sidli constituency Supriya Rani Brahma, widow of former Bodoland Peoples Council Premsing Brahma.
There are two daughters-in-law in the fray with Bismita Gogoi, widow of late speaker and Congress minister Jiban Kanta Gogoi’s son Rupak Gogoi, from Khumtai and Salma Jesmine, daughter-in-law of Congress leader Rashidul Haque, from Rupohihat Assembly constituency.
The two brothers of political heavy weights in the fray are sitting MLAs Sanjay Rai Subba, brother of controversial former Congress MP Mani Kumar Subba, who had contested as an Independent in the last polls but is contesting on a Congress ticket from Naoboicha and Sirajuddin Ajmal, brother of AUDF supremo Badruddin Ajmal from Jamunamukh.
The Congress coalition partner Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF)’s Chief Hagrama Mohilary has three relatives in the fray, all from his own party, with his father-in-law Batendra Basumatary contesting for the first time from Bilasipara (West).