Close fight expected in Silchar as D-Day nears
GUWAHATI: The Silchar Parliamentary constituency, one of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from the state of Assam, is set to go to polls in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections 2019 scheduled on April 18.
As per the estimates of 2011 census, out of the total 16,77,821 population, 81.2% is rural and 18.8% is urban. The percentage of scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) is 14.54 and 1.03 respectively out of total population.
Situated in the southernmost region in the state of Assam, Silchar is a Bengali-speaking constituency located by the banks of the Barak River, popularly called the Barak Valley.
The economy in the Silchar parliamentary constituency is reliant on crops such as tea, rice and other agricultural products. It also survives on limited industry such as paper-making and tea-box manufacturing. However, the Cachar district which is entirely covered by this Lok Sabha seat has been announced as a backward district in the country, being fed by governmental funds under the scheme of Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme.
In the history of Lok Sabha elections, Silchar has remained a Congress stronghold since Independence, with the BJP gaining ground only in pockets. The Congress has won the seat seven of the ten times it went to polls, of which five times it was won by Santosh Mohan Dev. BJP has won the seat thrice and it has always been by Kabindra Purkyastha.
At the time of the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Silchar witnessed a tough fight between the Congress and the BJP, with a margin of merely 35,241 votes. While the Congress won with 42.07% votes in their favour, BJP trailed with 37.66% votes. The AIUDF candidate Kutub Ahmed Mazumder received 10.69% of the total votes while Trinamool Congress candidate Wazid Reza Oswami received 1.04% votes, AGP candidate Bijoy Krishna Nath received 0.96% votes and AAP candidate Abdul Mannan Barbhuiya received 0.38% votes. Further, 0.54% votes were casted for NOTA (None of the above).
In 2014, Silchar had a total of 10,60,175 registered electors among which 5,54,540 were males and 5,05,635 females. The constituency had seen a 75.44% voter turnout with 7,99,830 exercising their franchise.
Silchar Lok Sabha constituency covers seven assembly segments - Silchar, Sonai, Dholai (SC), Udharbond, Lakhipur, Barkhola and Katigorah.
Combined, they have a total of 11,91,289 voters enrolled for the 2019 elections, out of which 6,13,931 are male voters, 5,77,283 are female voters and 75 are third gender voters.
These voters will exercise their franchise in 1,461 polling stations that have been set up in the constituency by the Election Commission.
Close fight expected in Silchar as D-Day nears
In Silchar, Muslim voters constitute about 35% of the electorate and play a deciding role. In the absence of an All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) candidate, the constituency is set to witness a straight fight between the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Congress’s sitting MP Sushmita Dev will be going against BJP’s Dr Rajdeep Roy (who is an orthopaedic surgeon by profession) in Silchar during the ensuing Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Making the fight very challenging for Dev and Roy are the 11 other candidates in fray for the seat. In fact, how many votes they can swing will decide who has the last laugh in Silchar.
Apart from Sushmita Dev and Rajdeep Roy, the other candidates are Shyam Deo Kurmi of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), Hitabrata Roy of the All India Trinamool Congress, Badrul Islam Barbhuiya of the All India Forward Bloc, Nazia Yasmin Mazumdar of National People's Party and Independent candidates Ashitava Datta, Ashutosh Bhattacharjee, Nazmul Haque Laskar, Puran Lal Goala, Shuvadeep Datta, Mohendra Chandra Das, and Sabindra Das.
With less than a week remaining for Silchar to cast their votes, electioneering is going on in full swing in the constituency. While Congress President Rahul Gandhi came down to campaign for Sushmita Dev, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came down to add grist to the poll mill of Dr Rajdeep Roy.
Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) tend to play the role of vanguard during the Lok Sabha elections as parties with most MLAs in a parliamentary constituency have first-mover advantage over others. They not only have the manpower at their disposal, but can also quickly help in changing the tide through active or passive participation where the margins are thin.
We have tried to understand how the parties stand against each other when it comes to MLA representation in the Silchar Lok Sabha seat in Assam.
In the 2016 Assembly elections the BJP managed to grab six out of the seven assembly constituencies with MLAs from the ruling party elected from Silchar, Sonai, Dholai (SC), Udharbond, Barkhola and Katigorah. Congress has only one MLA representing the Lakhipur assembly.
With such dynamics, it remains to be seen who wins from the Silchar seat this time.
Silchar by the numbers:
Date of Polling: 18th April 2019
Polling stations: 1,461
Female voters: 5,77,283
Male voters: 6,13,931
Third gender voters: 75