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Assembly byelection bugle sounds in NE

BJP, Congress hope for Assam sweep

By Rokibuz Zaman in Guwahati

  • Published 22.09.19, 12:58 AM
  • Updated 22.09.19, 2:49 PM
Women at an NRC seva kendra in Mayong, 55km from Guwahati, to verify whether their names have been included in the National Register of Citizens.
Women at an NRC seva kendra in Mayong, 55km from Guwahati, to verify whether their names have been included in the National Register of Citizens. Image credit: AP

The Election Commission on Saturday announced bypolls to four Assembly seats in Assam, one in Arunachal Pradesh and one in Meghalaya on October 21.

The key contenders in Assam, the BJP and the Congress, expressed confidence of doing well.

The four seats in Assam are Ratabari (SC), Jania, Rangapara and Sonari, while the constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya are Khonsa (West) and Shella respectively. The last date for filing nominations is September 30 and the dates for scrutiny and withdrawal are October 1 and October 3. The counting will be held on October 24.

The Jania, Rangapara, Ratabari and Sonari seats fell vacant after sitting legislators Abdul Khaleque (Congress) and Pallab Lochan Das, Kripa Nath Mallah and Tapan Gogoi, all BJP, were elected as MPs.

The Khonsa (West) seat fell vacant after MLA-elect Tirong Aboh of the NPP was shot dead along with 10 others in an ambush by suspected NSCN (I-M) militants in May.

Assam BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami said, “We are ready for the bypolls. Our membership in Assam increased from 28 lakh to about 40 lakh this year. We are confident of winning all four seats.”

Goswami said the party would win the Jania seat, which has been a stronghold of the Congress and the AIUDF. “We have worked for the development of the minority people. A large number of them registered during our membership drive. We have received a positive response from voters and are hoping to do well.”

Assam Congress spokesperson Apurba Bhattacharjee said, “We have visited the four constituencies and activities have started at the organisational level. The candidates will be selected within a few days.”

He said the people will vote for the Congress owing to lack of good governance and betrayal of Assamese people by the BJP. “In the name of NRC, the BJP has harassed citizens. The rights of genuine Indians have been stripped off during the NRC update. We hope the people will cast their vote against the BJP.”

The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance is unlikely to field a common candidate from Shella.

The bypoll to the seat in East Khasi Hills was necessitated following the demise of former Meghalaya Speaker and United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Donkupar Roy on July 28.

Though the UDP, which is a part of the ruling coalition, has confirmed the candidature of Roy’s son Balajied Synrem, the coalition has not taken any decision on whether he would be the common candidate.

Additional reporting by Rining Lyngdoh in Shillong