Silchar, Apr 14 : From being the citadel of Congress to be the first point of BJPs rise in North East, the prestigious Silchar constituency is in spotlight with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making two rounds of the constituency in election season and Congress star campaigners Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi also jumping in the ring as the battle of ballot in the high profile constituency braces for a photo finish.
Sushmita Dev, daughter of Congress heavyweight late Santosh Mohan Dev, is the sitting MP from the seat. In 2014, in heights of Modi fever Silchar seat bucked the trend despite the fact that BJPs journey in Assam started from Barak Valley comprising 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 segments. 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 and it 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 cornering 10 per cent votes.
Notably, in a tacit understanding with Congress, AIUDF has not put up its candidate this time so there is every possibility that Muslim votes will consolidate behind the grand old party.
However, the move may get countered with Nationalist Peoples Party (NPP) led by Conrad Sangma, an NDA ally in the Centre, putting up a candidature of higher educated Muslim girl Nazia Yasmin Mazumdar from the constituency.
NPP is targeting the Muslim vote bank drumming up the support against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to persecuted persons in the neighbouring countries excluding Muslims.
Congress candidate, Sushmita Dev, a Bengali Hindu by origin finds herself in a sticky wicket with her party opposing the CAB bill. 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's Prime Minister Modi, who is the centre point of attraction here, as he promised Bengali Hindu voters that his government is committed to pass the CAB in Parliament.
Silchar constituency which goes to polls in second phase on April 18 has 11,91,289 voters out of which 5,77,283 are female voters and 6,13,931 are male voters. (UNI)