As the second phase of the Lok Sabha election is set to be held in Assam on 18 April, all eyes will be on the five Lok Sabha Constituencies - Nagaon, Mangaldoi, Silchar, Karimganj, and Autonomous Council. Let us take a look at the Nagaon Lok Sabha Constituency and see which way the election might swing this time around.
Nagaon Constituency of middle-Assam has been historically a BJP citadel as it has been won by sitting MP and state Railways Minister Rajen Gohain the last four times. This time, though, Gohain was denied a ticket under highly controversial circumstances.
Gohain had said he would not contest the election until pending rape and molestation charges against him were dropped. Although the Minister was given a clean chit by the Gauhati High Court a day before the last date of filing nominations, the party overlooked Gohain in favor of Rupak Sarmah, MLA from Nagaon Sadar, which has thrown the race wide open.
Although Sarmah and Bordoloi have been going neck-and-neck in recent times, ground reports show a different picture. It is likely that the AIUDF not contesting the election will guarantee a greater chunk of the minority vote for the Congress candidate (38% of Nowgong voters are from religious minorities).
The polarization of votes between the Hindu-Muslim Communities is expected to play a major role in this Constituency. As per reports, Assamese Hindus number about 10 lakh (approx), while Muslims make up about 4.5-5 lakh voters (approx). Hindu Bengalis also make up a large voting bloc as they number around 1.5-2 lakh (approx).
Thus, the outcome will depend to a large extent on the Congress party's ability to woo the Hindu Assamese voters, as it is expected that many of the minority voters who voted for AIUDF candidate Aditya Langthasa will favor the Congress this time.
If these factors come into play, it should be enough to ascertain a Congress victory in the Constituency which has 17,74,467 voters.
But, Assam Health Minister Pijush Hazarika has a different version to tell. "We are also getting minority votes. Maybe we will get less than the Congress, but we will get many and we will win 10-11 seats with our allies. It is because the Congress party has no leadership", he said.
Conclusion: This result of this election will prove to what extent the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (which has been used as a major campaign issue by the Congress candidate Bordoloi) has turned off the indigenous people from voting for the BJP party. While the Bengali-Hindu population heavily favor the Bill, a section of the indigenous Assamese Hindu population are staunchly opposed to it. Thus, a BJP victory would prove that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a non-issue for the voting public, whereas a Congress victory would cement the Bill as a grave obstacle in the saffron party's prospects in the North-East in the future.
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