The Congress high command in New Delhi has a strong faith on Paban Singh Ghatowar, who has been five-time MP from Dibrugarh Lok Sabha constituency.
In the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha constituency, out of the total population of 11 lakh, four lakh belong to the tea communities.
Dibrugarh is known as a Congress bastion because from 1951 to 1999, the seat was never won by any party.
In 2004, Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief minister of Assam, won the Dibrugarh seat on AGP ticket.
In 2014, BJP candidate Rameshwar Teli won the seat defeating Paban Singh Ghatowar by a record margin of 1,85,347 votes.
According to sources, BJP’s sitting MP Rameswar Teli will contest against Paban Singh Ghatowar from the Dibrugarh seat.
Rameshwar Teli is the sitting BJP MP from Dibrugarh and the high command is not in a position to replace Teli.
Dibrugarh is surrounded by many tea gardens and the tea community people will play a vital role during the election.
It is interesting to see how the ST status issue will help the BJP in the upcoming election.
As a major poll plank, before the Assembly election, the BJP tabled ST Bill for six ethnic groups of Assam but the Bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha.
Out of 109 tea communities in Assam, only 36 of them will be tagged as Secluded Tribe (ST).
However, political analysts believe that the tea tribe votes will be shared between Congress and BJP because the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and ST status Bill will help the Congress party to some extent.
During 2014 election campaign, the BJP had penetrated into the tea gardens which were earlier regarded as a Congress stronghold. It is interesting to see how Congress regains their seat.
“We want development because for decades we are exploited. We cast our vote for the candidate who will work for the development of tea tribes. Every year during the election the leaders of the political parties come to us seeking votes and assure us many things but when the election is over it is difficult to find them. This time we will vote for development,” said Nima Rabi Das, a resident of Bokel tea garden.
“Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP is prioritising the need of the downtrodden people and introduced many developmental schemes for the benefit of the poor people. BJP has introduced many welfare schemes for the tea tribe’s people of Assam and is going to win the election again,” said a BJP supporter.
A senior Congress leader from Dibrugarh believed that this time Congress will regain their seat by defeating BJP.
“In their five years time, BJP has not done anything for the tea garden people. But to woo voters, the BJP has announced several schemes for the tea garden people in the recently concluded Assam budget but this will not help them to win the Dibrugarh seat because this time we will show good result in the tea garden areas,” he said.