LOCKING HORNS: (Left) Congress candidate Paban Singh Ghatowar; BJP candidate Rameswar Teli - main players for Dibrugarh Lok Sabha constituency.

Political concoction is brewing in ‘tea city’ Dibrugarh where undoubtedly politicos try to put their best foot forward to woo the tea garden community who comprise more than 30 per cent of the electorate.

In this ‘chai belt’ of Assam, Congress candidate Paban Singh Ghatowar will lock horns with Rameswar Teli of BJP in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Dibrugarh Lok Sabha Constituency has always been a Congress fortress. The party suffered defeat in this constituency only twice – in 2004 and 2014.

In 2004, now chief minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal (read who was then with AGP) won from this constituency and in 2014, Rameswar Teli of BJP had the last laugh.

Sonowal emerged victorious in 2004 riding high on the ‘IMDT wave’ and Rameswar Teli won in 2014 due to the ‘saffron surge’ in the country.

Experts say that in Battleground Dibrugarh, in the 2019 parliamentary elections, the scales are again tilted in favour of BJP candidate Teli.

Ghatowar, they say, have “fallen off the pedestal” and no longer enjoy the image of a “popular leader” among the Adivasi community.

Teli enjoys an edge over Ghatowar in the Dibrugarh seat as the saffron party has learnt well the art of ‘tea politics’ – otherwise till few years back wooing tea garden labourers had always been the Congress forte.

Political pundits say that the tea estate labourers have risen above the Congress’ brand of “blanket, cycle and liquor politics”.

The Modi magic is working on them in a big way – the NDA government has deposited Rs 5,000 in each account of the Adivasi labourers in two instalments.

The other sops’ include – providing free rice and sugar at Rs 2 per kg for the 4 lakh families of tea garden workers and Rs 12,000 as a one-time assistance for every expecting mother from this community.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is literally brewing up a saffron storm in the tea belts of Assam. In a rally held in Moran recently, BJP’s poster boy turned ‘chaiwala’ Modi from ‘chowkidar’ Modi.

Political pundits further stated that it seems that the Adivasi votes are slipping out of the Congress’ hands.

The first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Assam is days away and campaigning are gaining momentum with the ticking of the clock.

Politicians are making a beeline for their respective constituencies with their retinues.  For the Dibrugarh seat, polling will be held on April 11 next.

Paban Singh Ghatowar of Congress has won five times from here while JN Hazarika of the same party has done more than a hat trick. Nagaon Parliamentary Constituency is one among the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam.

The Assembly segments are – Moran, Dibrugarh, Lahowal, Duliajan, Tingkhong, Naharkatia, Tinsukia, Digboi and Margherita. The first MP from Dibrugarh was  JN Hazarika of Congress in the year 1951. Since then, it was a Congress show almost through and through till the BJP applied the brakes in 2014.

In the last Lok Sabha elections held in 2014, Rameswar Teli of the saffron party “shocked” the Congress candidate Paban Singh Ghatowar by defeating the latter with a margin of 185,347 votes.

Dibrugarh constituency: At a glance

Constituency number: 13

Total electors: 11, 24,305 (2014 estimates)

Male electors: 5, 79,657

Female electors: 5, 44,648

Parinita Datta

Parinita Datta is Chief Copy Editor of Northeast Now. She can be reached at: parinitadatta@gmail.com

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