Lok Sabha Election 2014 : battle ahead for Silchar, Karimganj seat

Political parties making preparations for the battle ahead

SILCHAR, July 9: Though the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 are still far away, the political parties which are busy with the formulation of strategy for the Silchar seat are yet to spell out their action plan for Karimganj Lok Sabha seat. But, the probable names of the candidates to be in the fray are in the air and matter of public discussion. Karimganj district has 1 Lok Sabha constituency (Reserved for SC) and 5 Legislative Assembly constituencies of Ratabari (SC), Patharkandi, Karimganj North, Karimganj South and Badarpur. Interestingly, Karimganj LS constituency includes 3 more Assembly constituencies of Hailakandi, Katlicherra and Algapur in Hailakandi district.

In order to ensure victory of its candidate on Karimganj LS seat, a political party should have organizational base and work in all the 8 Assembly constituencies. This no doubt calls for a well thought of action plan and tactical strategy. Information from the border town indicates that Congress which holds the seat of Karimganj will be in for tough challenge from BJP and AIUDF.

A look into the background of the Karimganj seat, since the first general elections of 1952 till 1980 shows that the district as a whole has been a Congress fortress. In the first 7 general elections to the Lok Sabha, the electoral success of Congress on this Lok Sabha seat was significant. It was however in the elections of 1985 that Sudarshan Das of Samajwadi Congress Party defeated his nearest Congress rival, Nihar Ranjan Laskar, and this brought about change in the power equation. Another significant development was the saffron resurgence which helped Dwarka Nath Das of BJP to win the seat in 1991. He repeated the feat in 1996 elections. But, Congress made a comeback in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections when its candidate Nepal Chandra Das wrested the seat from Swapan Kumar Das of BJP. Nepal Chandra Das again was elected in 1999, defeating Parimal Shuklabaidya of BJP.

It was quite significant that Lalit Mohan Shuklabaidya who was nominated for the Karimganj LS seat at the behest of Gautom Roy, Minister of PHE and an influential leader of Hailakandi, won it by defeating BJP candidate in 2004. He maintained the winning record in 2009 also. But, this time it was the new political force, AIUDF, whose candidate, Rajesh Mala, posed before him the toughest challenge and Shuklabaidya could scrape through with the slender margin of 6,000 votes only as against nearly 2 lakh votes in 2004.

Thus it is clear that the emergence of AIUDF in the political arena of Assam has no doubt brought about a notable change in the electoral battle of Barak Valley as well. Karimganj district with 5 Assembly constituencies has seen the growing base and influence of AIUDF which has virtually pushed behind Congress to form the Zilla Parishad of the district. This has no doubt caused ripples and rumblings in Congress camp. This has also posed the relevant question before the party leadership about the nomination of candidate for the Karimganj seat.

As pointed out, Lalit Mohan Shuklabaidya was the absolute choice of Gautom Roy with his domineering influence in the corridor of power at Dispur. But, the virtual alienation of Shuklabaidya from the people in general has brought in the relevant question if he would again be nominated for the seat, considered against the tough challenges thrown by AIUDF in particular. In the fast changing political situation, Congress leadership at the district level and also at the State level has to go for deeper analysis for taking the right decision.

That the AIUDF has come to become a great force in the Valley has been well demonstrated in the last February Assembly by poll of Algapur constituency. Despite all the gearing up by Gautom Roy, the heavyweight of the party with influence both in Hailakandi and Karimganj Congress, his wife, Mandira Roy, who was in the fray, could win with the slender margin of 815 votes only against AIUDF candidate, Mehbubul Hasan Laskar, it was a real test of strength for Gautom Roy. Whether the dictation of Gautom Roy in the selection of nominee for Karimganj seat will be accepted this time also, ask political observers. If Congress is undecided about its candidate, BJP and AIUDF are also to come out with the names even on probable list. From all reckoning, Rajesh Mala might again be the choice of AIUDF and State vice–president of BJP, Parimal Shuklabaidya, the nominee of the saffron party. Whoever might be the candidate of INC, the pitch will not be that smooth and easy but quite thorny, say political analysts.

Source: The Sentinel