Akhil Gogoi first in Assam to win election from jail


Guwahati: Jailed anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi became the first Assamese to win an election without hitting the campaign trail, as he clinched the Sibsagar constituency, defeating his nearest rival Surabhi Rajkonwari of the BJP by a decisive 11,875 votes.

The founder of the newly floated Raijor Dal — arrested in December 2019 over sedition charges — bagged 57,219 votes as an Independent, garnering support from 46.06 per cent of the electorate.

The Congress, which had initially backed the Raijor Dal chief, ended up giving ticket to Subhramitra Gogoi, who came third in the contest.

The RTI activist, in an attempt to reach out to the people of the state, wrote several open letters from jail, highlighting problems that need to be addressed.

What might have struck a chord with the electorate was his 85-year-old mother’s efforts to campaign for his imprisoned son along the narrow lanes of Sibsagar, despite the frailties of old age.

A graduate from Cotton College in Guwahati, the 46- year-old Raijor Dal chief is not new to electoral politics. He had served as general secretary of the Cotton College Students’ Union in 1995-96.

Over the years, the anti-corruption activist, who also helms the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), had been at the forefront of numerous agitations.

He had fought for land rights of indigenous people, and led a statewide movement against construction of big dams in the ecologically sensitive regions.

Dozens of cases have been slapped on him by successive state governments.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in December 2019 for his alleged involvement in the violent anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests across the state.

Political analyst Atiqur Rahman Barbhuiya said Gogoi’s victory will go down in history as the only political prisoner to have set such a precedent after former union minister George Fernandes, who won the 1977 Lok Sabha election by over three lakh votes from a jail in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur.

”Gogoi won because he identified with the indigenous sentiments. People considered him as his spokesperson,” Rahman Barbhuiya told PTI.

Prominent members of the Raijor Dal said they would move the court, seeking arrangements for Gogois participation in the oath-taking ceremony.

BJP, which has emerged victorious in the Assam assembly elections for the second successive time, has garnered 33.21 per cent share of the votes, according to the Election Commission.

Its alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad got 7.91 per cent, while UPA major Congress registered 29.67 per cent and AIUDF 9.29 per cent.

The saffron party won 60 of the 126 seats, its allies Asom Gana Parishad nine and United Peoples Party (Liberal) six. Congress bagged 29 seats, its partner All India United Democratic Front 16 and Bodo Democratic Front four.

CPI-M won one seat, and another went to an independent.

As per the party wise vote share data of the EC, the BJP contested in 92 seats and secured 6,84,538 (33.21%) of the total votes polled.

Regional party AGP contested in 26 seats and garnered 1,519,777 (7.9 %) votes.

The EC website did not speak of the vote share of UPPL which had contested in eight seats.

The Congress contested in 94 seats and won 5,703,341 votes (29.7 %), AIUDF was in the fray in 14 constituencies and got 1,786,551 (9.3 %) votes, while CPI(M) fought in two seats had secured just 160,758 (0.84 %) votes.

Others secured 13.7 per cent share with 2,628,518 votes and NOTA was the choice of 1.14 per cent voters – or 219,578 of them.

The major winners are Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chandra Mohan Patowary, besides Speaker of the outgoing assembly Hitendra Nath Goswami, AGP chief Atul Bora jailed anti-CAA movement leader Akhil Gogoi.

The prominent losers are Assam Pradesh Congress president Ripun Bora and minister Pramila Rani Brahma of BPF.