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January 02, 2011

Nomination of Congress candidates for Barak Valley

SILCHAR, Jan 1: With the statement of the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi ready to face the Assembly elections just after Bihu, hectic lobbying among Congress candidates for nominations has gained momentum. This has raised questions about the process and procedure of selecting candidates who will steer clear the party of challenges of the Opposition to enable the party to regain power for the third consecutive term. The recently concluded AICC session has in fact given certain specific guidelines in respect of selecting candidates with clean image as one of the criteria.
The message conveyed by the party High Command Sonia Gandhi to all the Chief Ministers of Congress ruled States in particular not to compromise with corruption as it was demonstrated very clearly in removing External Affairs Minister Shashi Tharoor, CWG Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, Minister of Tele Communications A Raja and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan. It has been asked in political circles will the Chief Minister of Assam without waiting for judgment remove the ministers under clout? According to a competent source in the party here, the controversial multi-crore scam of North Cachar Hills, now called Dima Hasao district, came in for special mention and the names of three ministers involved in it in particular. It has no doubt put the Chief Minister of Assam in dilemma as it will now be watched with interest if he would be bold enough to remove them from the ministry in order to refurbish the image of the government and the party. The source further added to say that 12 MLAs of Assam have been ruled out of nomination on various grounds, the most important among them being their performance and sullied image. On the prestigious Silchar seat, the names of Susmita Dev, reincarnated SMB chairman, Pradip Dutta Roy, APCC secretary, and Arun Dutta Majumdar, DCC (I) president are among the probables. The party leadership at the State and the Centre has to be particularly careful in the selection considering the fact that 57,000 minority votes are a deciding factor. The debacle of Sontosh Mohan Dev in the Parliamentary election of 2009 has sent the leadership into serious introspection.
The prospect of Kutub Ahmed Majumdar, sitting MLA of Sonai, from all reckoning looks remote for his non performance and adopting a policy of self aggrandizement. Rather the OSD of Irrigation Department Enamul Haque Laskar’s selection from this minority dominated Sonai Constituency is on the card who has by now been on campaign trail vigorously, reaching across people. On the Dholai (SC) seat, now held by BJP, the names of Kamakhya Mala and Girindra Mallick, one time MLA, are making round. For the border constituency of Katigorah, the scenario in respect of nomination is hazy. After the seat was held by BJP for consecutive three terms, it is now with AIUDF. The party is keeping its option wider to field a formidable candidate. The chances of Misbahul Islam Laskar, former Minister and Chairman of Assam Pradesh Minority Cell, for nomination on Borkhola seat are bright as Dr Rumi Nath, who deserted BJP to seek Congress nomination, has ultimately decided to contest as Independent with the support of Trinamool Congress.
On the fate of Gautom Roy, Minister of Excise and Border Area Development, who has been on winning spree from Katlicherra Constituency since 1985, despite his being in controversy over the NC Hills scam, the Chief Minister will have to take a very cautious decision which finally will have to be endorsed by the party high command if the Congress is serious about its commitment on fair image. There seems no real and viable alternative to Roy.

Gautom Roy’s son Rahul Roy, according to the source, is likely to be renominated from Algapur while Abdul Muhib Majumdar, ex-Minister and the architect of IMDT Act of 1983, is favourable choice of the party leadership on Hailakandi seat, now being held by AIUDF. Siddique Ahmed, Parliamentary Secretary and a SP turned Congress, who was elected from South Karimganj, is all set to regain his nomination. For North Karimganj, in the fold of BJP, the names of Manoj Das, and Ketaki Prasad Dutta, are on the probable list.
For the Badarpur Assembly, the names of Abu Saleh Nazmuddin, former Minister, and Jalal Ahmed ex-MLA, are making rounds. Shambhu Singh Mala, the BJP rebel MLA who joined Congress, is likely to be rewarded with nomination for the Ratabari (SC) seat while Kartik Sena Singh, who also left BJP to join Congress, is also favoured to get the nomination.
In the final analysis, the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and the APCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita will have to take a very calculated and prudent decision together in the selection of candidates considered against the fact that the issue of corruption will be the main poll plank of the Opposition, besides the burning problems of connectivity and price rise. For the 15 Assembly seats across the three districts of Barak Valley, both BJP and AIUDF are the tough contenders with their claims on the votes of both majority and minority communities. (SentinelAssam)

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