Constituency Watch: Nowgong- A BJP-stronghold since 1999
GUWAHATI: Nowgong is the 10th Lok Sabha constituency of Assam. It has been a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stronghold from the late 1990s. BJP’s Rajen Gohain is the sitting MP and has been representing the seat since 1999. Gohain again managed to win the seat for BJP in the 2014 general election.
Since 1951, the seat has been won by the Congress. Veteran Congressman Dev Kanta Barua represented the seat in 1951 and 1977. From 1957 till 1971 Liladhar Kotoki of the Congress represented the seat and from 1984 till 1996, Muni Ram Saikia of the Asom Gana Parishad represented the seat. In 1998, Nripen Goswami of the Congress won the Nowgong seat defeating Rajen Gohain (BJP). Soon after that because of the political instability at the centre in which the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government failed to secure confidence motion in the house, the country went for another election in 1999. It was in 1999 that Rajen Gohain won the seat for first time for BJP defeating his Congress rival Nripen Goswami by a margin of 35,428 votes and retained it till 2019.
However, Gohain was involved in a rape charge and a case was filed against him in 2018 that hurt his chances of retaining the seat this time.
Gohain himself opted out of the race for candidature citing legal issues. There were rumours that his wife Rita Gohain might get the ticket.
Eventually, just before the last date of nomination filing Gohain’s name was cleared of the charges, but he was denied the ticket and again the speculation started as to who the BJP will field from the seat.
The national party finally decided to field their MLA from Nagaon Sadar constituency, Rupak Sarmah for the Nowgong Lok Sabha seat. Rupak Sarmah is a businessman by profession and a cultural worker. Presently, he is the president of Alumni Association, Nowgong College.
The Congress, on the other hand, nominated Pradyut Bordoloi as their candidate from the constituency. Bordoloi was the minister of state for home affairs and later promoted as minister of state with independent charge for environment and forest in the Congress government. He was also the minister for power, industries and commerce in Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet. He represented Margherita Vidhan Sabha constituency from 1998 till 2016 after he lost the election to BJP’s Bhaskar Sarma with a difference of 22,744 votes during the 2016 Assam assembly election. Bordoloi is one of the vice-presidents and chairman of the media department, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.
Nowgong has 8 candidates who have filed nominations for the seat. These candidates are Rupak Sarmah from the BJP, Pradyut Bordoloi from the Congress, Sahadeb Das from the All India Trinamool Congress, Saiful Islam Choudhury from Asom Jana Morcha, Azgar Ali from the Purvanhal Janta Party, Golapi Saikia from Voters Party International, Sukanta Majumdar from Bharatiya Gana Parishad and Zakir Hussain who is an independent candidate.
However, the main battle for the seat is between Rupak Sarmah of the BJP and Pradyut Bordoloi of the Congress. It will be a tough fight in Nowgong as both the parties have fielded fresh faces for the seat; it will be a tug of war and only on 23rd May the results will be clear as to whom the voters of Nowgong gave their mandate to.
Nowgong by the numbers:
Date of Polling: 18th April 2019
Polling stations: 2,283
Female voters: 8,72,249
Male voters: 9,18,386
Third gender voters: 49
List of Assembly constituencies under Nowgong: Jagiroad, Morigaon, Hojai, Raha, Nagaon, Lumding, Jamunamukh, Barhampur and Laharighat.