The announcement of candidates for 111 Lakhimpur and 109 Bihpuria seats in Lakhimpur district has indicated a bipolar contest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On Saturday night the Congress announced Joy Prakash Das as its candidate for the Lakhimpur constituency along with AICC general secretary Bhupen Bora to contest the Bihpuria seat.
Earlier on Friday, the BJP had announced Manab Deka and Amiya Kumar Bhuyan as its candidates for the Lakhimpur and Bihpuria LAC respectively on Friday.
Deka, a close aide of BJP’s election strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma since their Congress days, entering into the electoral fray for the first time, will face stiff resistance from Congress’ Joy Prakash Das—who lost by a whisker in the 2016 polls due to a dissident candidature by a fellow party man.
Both Deka and Das have been very much visible on various public occasions across the Lakhimpur LAC in the last few years preparing their groundwork for the elections.
While Deka was seen prominently along with his party big-wigs on various occasions of their visits for inaugurations, foundation laying ceremonies and attending various sports events and cultural functions, Das had been consistent in raising the problems affecting the constituency like flood, riverbank erosion and displacement and connectivity issues.
Deka’s candidature for Lakhimpur has created huge resentment among the supporters of incumbent MLA Utpal Dutta of the AGP—the coalition partner of BJP.
For the five-time MLA from Lakhimpur, Utpal Dutta, who has been elected from Lakhimpur in the last two consecutive terms, the seat-sharing announcement this time seems to the end of his political journey.
Upset with the decision by the seat-sharing by the BJP-AGP alliance, the AGP supporters of Utpal Dutta may play spoilsport electorally.
However, in contrast to BJP’s Deka’s regular visibility in the constituency on every public occasion, incumbent Utpal Dutta was constantly missing from the public sphere.
Deka’s candidature has also created inner discomfort in Lakhimpur BJP as three other aspirants—Jagadish Dutta, Rukma Gohain Baruah and Phanidhar Baruah were also in the public sense.
In Bihpuria LAC the electoral fight will also be straight one between Congress’ Bhupen Bora, a two-two-time ex-MLA and Amiya Kumar Bhuyan of BJP.
Bhuyan got the candidature following denial of party ticket to its incumbent MLA Debananda Hazarika.
Bora, a veteran in the constituency was a familiar face in Bihpuria while Bhuyan, an ex-AASU leader and an ex-Congress worker has been seen in various social services like flood relief.
While Bhuyan may face some level of dissidence from the ticket denied Hazarika’s supporters, Bora’s ground force has been boosted up by the recent visit by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the constituency.