Moni Madhab Mahanta – one-time BJP critic now contesting LS polls in its support
Moni Madhab Mahanta, former All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader, is BJP’s choice for the Kaliabor Lok Sabha (LS) seat as part of the party’s coalition with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) for the ensuing LS polls.
This time, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not fielded any candidate from Kaliabor just to make a smooth road for Mahanta to win.
Mahanta, once a stern critic of BJP’s policies, especially the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (CAB), is currently campaigning in full swing to garner support for his party’s alliance and help BJP regain control at the Centre.
Before joining AGP, Moni Madhab Mahanta was holding the position of vice-president (VP) of AASU; he left the AGP just before the LS polls.
The 44-year old student leader-turned-politician became the talk of the town when he sidelined many party veterans from both AGP and BJP to contest from Kaliabor constituency.
A Masters of Arts (MA) degree holder from Gauhati University, Mahanta is fighting against Congress’ sitting MP from the Kaliabor constituency and former chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s son, Gourav Gogoi.
The first time MP contender from AGP is the younger brother of State cabinet minister Keshab Mahanta.
Last year, when the state-wide protest against CAB was at its peak, Moni Madhab Mahanta, in his capacity as VP of AASU, lent support to a number of rallies and demonstrations staged in favour of scrapping the controversial bill.
In one such protest, which was organised in Kaliabor, Mahanta, along with representatives from Asom Sahitya Sabha, Asom Jatiyatabadi Juba Chatra Parishad and All Tai Ahom Students’Union (ATASU), submitted a memorandum before the district administration demanding withdrawal of the bill.
After filing his nomination, Moni Madhab Mahanta has been making appearances and delivering speeches at rallies and meetings in Kaliabor to woo the voters.
Mahanta reportedly said that CAB would hardly bring any differences to the minds and lives of the voters, as people only want a leader who can talk on their behalf, not against them.
He believes that the Modi-led government in the Centre will not take any decision that will hurt the sentiments of the people of Assam.
In an affidavit filed along with his nomination, Mahanta revealed that he has movable assets worth Rs 18,75,757 and has Rs 5,18,728 cash in hand.
He inherits Rs 8,75,000 worth of assets and 7.19 acres of land that falls under Kaliabor circle office in Nagaon.
In addition, the new entrant to electoral politics has Rs 1,25,000 worth of jewellery and ornaments and a house in Kaliabor with around 6,000 sq ft of built-up area. Mahanta has no criminal cases pending against him.
Kaliabor constituency at a glance
The constituency comprises ten assembly segments including Golaghat, Dergaon (SC), Bokakhat, Dhing, Batadroba, Rupohihat, Samaguri, Kaliabor, Sarupathar and Khumtai.
It has remained a stronghold for the Congress Party since Bedabrata Barua first won from the constituency on the party’s ticket in 1967.
Congress had lost the Kaliabor LS seat only twice in 1984 and 1996 to AGP’s Bhadreswar Tanti and Keshab Mahanta, Moni Madhab Mahanta’s brother, respectively.
Former chief minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, also served twice as an MP from Kaliabor LS seat in 1991 and 1998. Tarun Gogoi’s brother Dip Gogoi also represented the constituency between 2002 and 2009.
In the last LS election of 2014, Tarun Gogoi’s son Gourav Gogoi won the Kaliabor LS seat by polling 443,315 votes and defeating BJP’s Mrinal Kumar Saikia and AIUDF’s Bijoy Kumar Tiru.
As per data available with Chief Electoral Officer, Assam, Kaliabor constituency has a total of 17,10,939 voters comprising 8,74,319 male, 8,36,575 female and 45 third gender voters.