BJP and Congress eye Silchar; NPP to try it's best
GUWAHATI: From being the bastion of Congress to being the focal point of BJPs rise in Assam, the prestigious Silchar constituency hogged the limelight with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making two rounds of visit of the constituency in the election season and Congress' star campaigner Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi also jumped in the ring as the seat heats up for a close finish.
Sushmita Dev, daughter of Congress heavyweight late Santosh Mohan Dev, is the sitting MP from the seat. In 2014, during the peak of Modi fever, Silchar seat bucked the trend despite the fact that BJPs journey in Assam started from Barak Valley, comprising of three districts Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj.
In 1991, lotus bloomed in two assembly segments for the first time in Silchar and Karimganj. Presently, in Silchar parliamentary constituency, out of seven assembly segments, BJP is in hold of six.
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 which has always been by veteran leader Kabindra Purkyastha.
However, the population distribution of the constituency is such that it presents a chance of a microscopic polarization with Muslim voters forming 35 per cent of the electorate and the rest is shared between Hindu Bengalis, Hindi speaking people and tea garden labourers.
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 per cent votes in their favour, BJP trailed with 37.66 per cent votes and a minority party All Indian United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by perfume baron, Badruddin Ajmal garnering 10 per cent votes.
Notably, in a tacit understanding with Congress, AIUDF has not put up its candidate this time, and so there is every possibility that Muslim votes will go in favor of the grand old party.
However, the move may get countered with National People's Party (NPP) led by Conrad Sangma, an NDA ally at the centre, putting up the highly educated Muslim candidate, Nazia Yasmin Mazumdar from the constituency.
Congress candidate, Sushmita Dev, a Bengali Hindu by origin, finds herself in a sticky wicket with her party opposing the CAB. The CAB is being favoured overwhelmingly by Hindu Bengalis in the Barak valley region. Congress' winning chances in the seat this time around majorly depends on the consolidation of Muslim votes.
On the other hand BJP has put up Dr. Rajdeep Roy, a young leader and long time worker of the party in the Barak valley region, but it is Prime Minister Modi who is the centre of attraction here as he promised Bengali Hindu voters that his government is committed to pass the CAB in the Parliament.
Silchar goes to polls in the second phase on April 18 has 11,91,289 voters, of which, 5,77,283 are female and 6,13,931 are male voters.
(L) Priyanka Gandi Vadra (R) PM Modi