Voters in the four constituencies in Guwahati are ‘unhappy’ as they are left with no options, but to select the ‘best’ out of the ‘worst’ candidates.

As Assam is all set to poll in three phases from March 27, election to all the four constituencies in Guwahati will be held in the last phase, on April 6.

And, there are definite reasons for the electorates in the four constituencies – East Guwahati, West Guwahati, Dispur and Jalukbari to be ‘unhappy’.

Educated elite voters in Guwahati are of the opinion that none of the sitting MLAs did anything encouraging to transform the urban conglomerate as a ‘Smart City’, and infrastructure is inferior in comparison to some sub-divisional headquarters in mainland states in India.

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The NDA has put up all the sitting MLA in the four constituencies in Guwahati, while the Congress-led opposition fielded ‘immature’ and green horns as candidates.

In fact, Guwahati was among the first 20 cities in India, which were shortlisted in first phase of ‘Smart City Mission’ launched in January 2016.

Unfortunately, during the last five years, Guwahati could not transform itself anywhere close to a ‘Smart City’, and the electorates blame the policymakers, especially the sitting MLAs for their total lack of vision.

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Despite the mighty Brahmaputra flowing through the city and funding by international agencies funding water supply projects, people in Guwahati don’t have drinking water.

The city of Guwahati, often described as the ‘Gateway to Southeast Asia’ has been a victim of unscientific and haphazard growth, and quality of life in the city is getting bad to worse.

The haphazard growth led to nightmarish traffic congestion, pollution and flash floods. Sadly, the city also has little scope for development, and the elected policymakers are largely being blamed for the mess.

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In East Guwahati, the BJP has put up the sitting MLA, Siddhartha Bhattacharyya, while Ashima Bardoloi is the Congress candidate. The newly-floated Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP) has fielded Adip Phukan.

Voters in East Guwahati feel Ashima Bardoloi got the Congress ticket primarily because she is the granddaughter of Bharat Ratna Gopinath Bardoloi, the first chief minister of Assam.

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This is for the first time Ashima Bardoloi is contesting Assam Assembly election, and is not experienced enough to resolve the perennial problems of East Guwahati constituency.

Voters in Guwahati
Image credit – EC
Image credit – EC

Ashima Bardoloi’s earlier responsibility as a councillor of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) was not satisfactory at all. A lot of voters find her to be toffee-nosed, and definitely not down-to-earth.

Her father, Captain Robin Bardoloi also represented East Guwahati constituency twice as a Congress member. After failing to serve the people of the constituency, he has now joined the BJP.

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In 2016, BJP’s Siddartha Bhattacharyya had registered victory in East Guwahati with a huge margin. He had secured 1,27,602 votes, while Bobeeta Sharma of Congress had bagged only 30,965 votes.

In fact, Bhattacharyya’s first electoral victory turned out to be a damp squib as the electorates did not get to see any pro-active role in resolution of the two primary issues – flash floods and lack of drinking water supply.

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The East Guwahati constituency has a perennial problem of flash-flood, especially in three areas — Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar and Tarun Nagar.

While drinking water scarcity is a major issue in Guwahati, people of East Guwahati constituency are the worst suffers.

Adip Phukan of AJP will also fail to woo support of electorates because he has no political base in the constituency. He is being described as a rolling stone because he was in the BJP and AGP in the past.

People of West Guwahati constituency too are not happy with the sitting MLA, Ramendra Narayan Kalita of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). The NDA has put him up again as a candidate.

Kalita served five terms as the MLA of the constituency, but the electorates in the constituency cannot recall anything big or extraordinary as his contribution. The constituency lacks in every sphere.

The Congress has put up Mira Borthakur Goswami in West Guwahati constituency. Goswami was a former spokesperson of BJP, and is totally inexperienced in electoral politics, and had joined the party on January 20.

Congress supporters are also not happy with Mira Borthakur Goswami’s candidature because she had joined the party primarily to contest the Assam Assembly election.

As per reports, Mira Borthakur Goswami was initially eyeing East Guwahati constituency, and she was dumped at the eleventh hour in West Guwahati.

Voters in Dispur constituency also feel that they will have to select the ‘best’ out of the ‘worst’ candidates because sitting MLA Atul Bora of the BJP did nothing during the last five years.

And it is surprising that the Congress could not find a suitable candidate against Atul Bora in the prestigious constituency of Dispur, and left it to its non-descript ally, the Anchalik Gana Morcha.

Anchalik Gana Morcha, which is headed by Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, has fielded journalist-turned politician, Manjit Mahanta to take on Atul Bora in Dispur.

Now, the voters, who are not happy with Atul Bora’s performance in Dispur, are unable to see any hope in Manjit Mahanta as an alternative to represent the constituency in the Assam Legislative Assembly.

In Jalukbari constituency, the Congress has issued ticket to Romen Chandra Borthakur to take on power Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

People in the constituency are of the opinion that Congress’s selection of Romen Chandra Borthakur as a candidate against Himanta Biswa Sarma was totally wrong as he even does not enjoy support of a large section of the Congress workers.

Electorates in Jalukbari are unable to understand as to why the Congress fielded Romen Chandra Borthakur against Himanta Biswa Sarma. Borthakur was suspended from Congress in June 1999 for anti-party activities.

Some voters in Jalukbari think Himanta Biswa Sarma’s uninterrupted victory in the constituency since 2001 has made him haughty, and he helps only his close acquaintances.

But the voters in Jalukbari who don’t support Himanta Biswa Sarma are still not convinced to find Romen Chandra Borthakur as an alternative. As a result, Himanta Biswa Sarma’s victory is certain.

With hardly 12 days to go for the third phase of election, the electorates in Guwahati are dejected that they will have to select the ‘best’ of the ‘worst’ candidates.

Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in