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Assam Assembly elections | BJP denies ticket to 11 sitting MLAs

Biswajit Daimary. File Photo.  

The Bharatiya Janata Party has denied tickets to 11 sitting MLAs, including a minister, and fielded two Congress defectors who served as Cabinet Ministers in the Tarun Gogoi government.

The BJP also rewarded Rajya Sabha member Biswajit Daimary, who defected from former ally Bodoland People’s Front, with the Panery seat and changed the constituency of its State unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass from Sorbhog to Patacharkuchi.

The party announced the names of 70 candidates for the first and second phases of the Assam Assembly elections to be held on March 27 and April 1.

The MLAs who have been shown the door are Hills Area Development Minister Sum Ronghang (Diphu seat), Rituparna Barua (Lahowal), Amar Chand Jain (Katigorah), Ashok Sarma (Nalbari), Joyram Engleng (Howraghat), Mansing Rongpi (Baithalangso), B.B. Hagjer (Haflong), Dilip Paul (Silchar), Kishore Nath (Barkhola), Debananda Hazarika (Bihpuria) and Nabanita Handique (Sonari).

In Mr. Ronghang’s place, BJP fielded Bidya Sing Engleng. A former MLA and former chief of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC), Mr. Engleng had contested the Diphu seat in 2016 as a Congress candidate and lost to Mr Ronghang.

The BJP switched its Chabua MLA to Lahowal to end Mr Barua’s run. The former’s house was torched by a mob during the height of the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December 2019.

The party similarly replaced Mr. Ashok Sarma with Jayanta Malla Barua, a former Congress MLA and a loyalist of Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, in the Nalbari seat. Mr. Barua is the chairman of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation and used to be associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

In Howraghat, the BJP has fielded Dorsing Ronghang, who had switched over from the Left Front a few years ago.

Leaders of the autonomous councils in two hill districts were preferred over as many sitting MLAs. The BJP favoured Roop Sing Teran, chairman of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, for the Baithalangso seat and Nandita Garlosa, sister of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council chief Debolal Garlosa, for the Haflong seat.

In Bihpuria and Sonari seats, the party fielded Amiyo Bhuyan and Dharmeswar Konwar in place of Mr. Debananda Hazarika and Nabanita Handique respectively.

3 MLAs replaced

Three MLAs from the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley were replaced. While Mr. Dilip Paul, former Assembly Deputy Speaker, found his Silchar seat given to businessman Dwipayan Chakraborty, former RSS functionary Amalendu Das was preferred over Mr. Kishore Nath for the Barkhola seat.

The third MLA to miss the bus was Mr. Amar Chand Jain, whose Katigorah seat went to Gautom Roy, a former Congress Minister often referred to as “king of Barak Valley”. His Cabinet colleague in Tarun Gogoi’s Congress government, Ajanta Neog has been nominated from the Golaghat seat she has been representing since 2001.

Ms. Neog joined the BJP in December 2020.

State BJP leaders said the party assessed the performances of the current MLAs prior to deciding on the candidates. But several ministers and MLAs said to have performed below par have been retained.

Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma downplayed the threat perception that is said to have made the BJP change the constituencies of some of its MLAs, including Mr. Dass.

“We decided he will contest from Patacharkuchi instead of Sorbhog because our party workers want him to,” Dr. Sarma said.

Three allies

He said the BJP was going to the polls with three allies — the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Rabha Joutha Mancha. While the other two allies will contest on their respective symbols, the lone Mancha candidate (third phase) will contest on the BJP symbol.

The AGP has been given 26 seats compared to 28 in 2016, including where it had a friendly contest with the BJP. The UPPL, headed by Bodoland Territorial Council chief Pramod Boro, will contest eight seats.

Dr. Sarma will be contesting from his pet Jalukbari seat. He had earlier announced that he would not contest the polls unless the BJP wanted him to.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who will contest from the ‘island’ constituency Majuli, said: “The BJP will retain power because we have ensured peace and progress for all communities.”

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 10:08:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-denies-ticket-to-11-sitting-mlas-in-assam/article34001130.ece

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