Constituency Watch Dhubri: Can the Congress win back its stronghold again?
In 1957 Dhubri was carved out as a separate constituency out from the Goalpara Garo Hill constituency, and in that same year, Amjad Ali from Praja Socialist party, was elected from the seat. He had represented the Goalpara Garo Hill seat in 1951.
Dhubri soon got its first Congress Member of Parliament (MP). Ghyauddin Ahmad was elected in 1962 and only in 1967 did the Praja Socialist Party win the seat again. But, since 1971 till 2009 the seat had been dominated by the Congress - for almost 40 years that is.
Traditionally being a Congress stronghold, the party was almost unbeatable in the constituency. But, with the rise of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and its chief Badruddin Ajmal, the Congress has fallen by the wayside with the AIUDF managing to win the seat in 2009 general election and thereafter. Ajmal has been the sitting MP ever since.
However, perfume baron Ajmal is facing a strong anti-incumbency wave as most people are unsatisfied with his performance as MP for the last two terms. The constituency lacks in terms of development and infrastructure, people have become frustrated. Ajmal has one of the lowest attendance rates in the Lok Sabha and participated in very less number of debates and has not introduced any private member’s bill.
On the other hand, Congress has fielded Abu Taher Bepari as their MP candidate. Bepari was the ex MLA of the Golakganj legislative assembly constituency (LAC) for two consecutive terms - 2006 and 2011. Bepari, in 2015, left the Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following the footsteps of Himanta Biswa Sarma. But then again, he returned to the Congress on 30th October 2017 stating displeasure with the BJP after he was not given a ticket to contest from Golakganj LAC.
While both the AIUDF and the Congress have selected their candidates for the seat, the BJP this time left the seat for its ally the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). Zabed Islam, son of former minister Zahirul Islam, was an independent MLA from Mankachar (South Salmara) LAC and won the assembly seat in 2011. He later joined the AGP in April 2018 and on March 27, 2019, the AGP declared him as the candidate from Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency. Zabed Islam was a well known cricketer from Dhubri.
A total of 17 candidates have filed their nominations from the seat and they are Badruddin Ajmal from the AIUDF, Abu Taher Bepari (INC), Nurul Islam Choudhury (TMC), Zabed Islam (AGP), Surat Jaman Mondal (Socialist Unity Centre Of India - Communist), Shajahan Sheikh (Voters Party International), Mehbubar Rahman (Republican Party Of India - A), Johirul Islam Khan (Purvanchal Janta Party - Secular), Nripen Das (Bharatiya National Janta Dal) and Alakesh Roy (Hindusthan Nirman Dal).
Apart from party candidates, 5 other independent candidates have filed their nominations for the seat. They are Anamika Sarkar, Rukunur Zaman, Uttam Kumar Ray, Asrof Ali, Selina Sultana, Shukur Ali and Mir Hussain Sarkar.
Both the AIUDF and the Congress have four LAC seats out of the 10 and the BJP has only two which will zero down the fight between the AIUDF and the Congress and since the BJP has left the seat for its ally, the AGP, the two by default will act for the AGP. However, there might be a change of face in this election because of the strong anti-incumbency factor of the sitting MP Badruddin Ajmal. The Congress, on the other hand, has stronger chance of coming back to power in the constituency because of the above factors and the AGP will have to work win the trust of people specially after its decision of re-alliance with the BJP.
Dhubri by the numbers:
Date of Polling: 23rd April 2019
Number of polling stations: 2,450
No of voters: 18,56,168
No of female voters: 9,48,971
No of male voters: 9,07,173
No of third gender voters: 24