Three-way fight in Assam’s Nagaon and Karimganj seats as BJP, Congress and AIUDF battle


Going to polls on April 26 in the second phase, Nagaon and Karimganj Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam will have a neck-to-neck and largely a triangular fight between BJP, Congress, and AIUDF.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is leading the poll campaign for his party BJP in the state, has himself asserted that these two seats are tough to win but contended that he was comfortable of bagging both.

Nagaon and Karimganj in central and south Assam have a sizable number of Muslim voters, particularly Bengali-speaking, who are seen a pro Congress or AIUDF.
Karimganj constituency is in the Barak Valley, a Bengali-dominated region of the state. Nagaon is in the Brahmaputra Valley.

At present, Nagaon is with Congress and Karimganj with BJP. In 2014, Nagaon was with the BJP and Karimganj with Badaruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF.

In Nagaon, BJP has fielded Suresh Bora, a Congress turncoat who has recently joined the party, hoping that he would be able to crowd in Congress votes towards it. Congress on the other hand betted on its incumbent parliamentarian Pradyut Bordoloi.

Assam Congress’ Nagaon Lok Sabha seat candidate, Pradyut Bordoloi, in his campaign trail is asserting that under the rule the BJP, India has become the most unequal country in the world as the difference between the poor and the rich is getting wider. “India is the most unequal country of the world. Few persons are basically accumalating all the wealth of the people of India and there is a gulf of difference between the poor and the rich are getting wider and wider,” said Bordoloi recently.

He also claims that the BJP intends to alter the Indian Constitution’s basic principles. and this is why it is using slogans like ‘Abki Baar 400 Paar’ to attain a majority and implement their agenda, which includes removing features such as secularism. Bordoloi also alleged that the BJP is systematically attacking the institutions upholding the Indian Constitution’s democratic character.

In Karimganj, BJP has fielded its incumbent parliamentarian Kripanath Mallah. He had been elected in the Assam Legislative Assembly elections in 2011 and 2016 from Ratabari constituency.
In the 2019 general elections, Kripanath Mallah won against AIUDF leader Radheshyam Biswas and Congress leader Swarup Das by securing 473,046 votes.

In the 2024 elections, the Karimganj battle will be seen between BJP leader Kripanath Mallah, AIUDF leader Sahabul Islam Choudhury and Congress leader Advocate Hafeez Rashid Ahmed Choudhury.
BJP which is trying to maximize its tally in the state is faced with an uphill task with the minority voters being a significant factor. However, with the AIUDF and the Congress both vying for the minority vote the BJP could benifit from the division.

Assam chief minister has on many occasions in his campaign trail made specific mentions that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has treated all sections of the society equally and all its schemes and programs reached all communities, including Muslims.

On April 19, Himanta addressed a rally in Nagaon’s Dhing, where as per estimates Muslim voters are over 80 per cent in numbers. The rally saw thousands from the community coming and patiently hearing to the chief minister.

In all his election speeches, Himanta has been focusing on the development agenda, his and Centre’s flagship schemes, how the state has come out of insurgency and violent past, and the cultural assimilation between all communities, and an aspirational new Assam. He by and large avoided attacking Congress, its principal Opposition, and remained focused on addressing its core beneficiaries.

AIUDF meanwhile is going out all guns blazing at Congress, which has concurrent voter base. AIUDF chief Ajmal has been saying Congress is responsible for the abysmal socio-economic plight of the Muslims. Badruddin Ajmal claimed that, in Assam, the Muslims will vote in favour of AIUDF.

AIUDF is contesting in 3 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats – Dhubri, Nagaon and Karimganj.

“We will win all three seats. We have given away the other 11 seats for Congress, but they (Congress) give a walkover of all 11 seats to BJP. They said that we are the B team of BJP, but the Assam Congress is the A-Z team of BJP,” Badruddin Ajmal had said.

Also, festive fever is on in Assam, with the state’s main festival Bihu being celebrated by the people, and it has found its feet in Lok Sabha campaigns with political parties dancing to the tune of Bihu songs as part of their outreach and also to celebrate the festival of democracy.
Dance and music are used as an instrument to unite people and add colors to election campaign.

Like many other political leaders from all sides of the spectrum, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also engaged the voters’ dovetailing culture with the election campaign. In every election rally in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, Assam BJP’s theme song, or any folk music, is being played and the chief minister himself and other leaders on the podium match their dancing steps with the public.

Cultural troupes from various communities come out in their respective traditional attire, and dance and sing in the rallies of political parties. Cultural troupes participating in election campaigns are not new in Assam, and it has been happening all along.

For BJP and NDA to reach its intended target of 400 seat, every seat is critical, and more so where it has an outside chance of winning given its past records. BJP’s Rajen Gohain, a party veteran, has won Nagaon seats for five times and was a central minister in PM Modi’s first term.

The polling for the 14 seats in Assam were scheduled to be held in three phases. Voting in five seats, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Kaziranga, and Jorhat are already over in the first phase held on April 19, and it seems BJP is ahead in all these Lok Sabha segments.

Barring Dhubri, from where Badaruddin Ajmal happens to be a parliamentarian, in the rest 13 seats BJP has gone all out in their campaign.

In this Lok Sabha election in Assam, the BJP is contesting in 11 out of 14 seats, while its ally parties, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), are contesting in two seats (Barpeta and Dhubri) and UPPL in one seat (Kokrajhar), respectively.

This time, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is also eyeing Assam, but is a small player for the time being.

In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 7 of the 14 seats in Assam. Both the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) claimed three seats each.

During the 2019 elections, the BJP increased its seat count to 9, while the Congress maintained its three seats, and the AIUDF won a single seat.

(Inputs from ANI)