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Millionaires to ex-militants in Assam poll fray

Sunday March 20, 2011 10:17:54 PM, Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS

Guwahati: From millionaires to former separatist militants and charge-sheeted politicians, candidates of all hues are in the fray for the April 4 first phase of assembly elections in Assam.

The candidate for the Sootea assembly seat of Assam's main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Padma Hazarika, is by far one of the richest among the 529 nominations received for the first phase of polls.

Monday is the last date for withdrawal of candidature for the first phase vote, which includes 62 of the 126 assembly segments in the state.

Hazarika's total declared assets come to around Rs.50 million.

Despite the fact that the AGP has been out of power during the last 10 years, there are millionaries like Hazarika in its list of candidates whose sole profession is politics.

Also, there are five former militants of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in the fray this time - two of them are sitting lawmakers having won their respective seats as independents.

Jiten Gogoi and Kushal Duwori from Bokakhat and Thowra assembly seats respectively have been lawmakers for two successive terms.

Three more surrendered ULFA leaders are in the fray this time - Suresh Bora, a Congress candidate from Barhampur, Jayanta Khound contesting as an independent from Naoboicha and Prafulla Bora alias Dhekial Phukan, the Nationalist Congress Party candidate from Bihpuria.

"I don't think my former ULFA tag would have any bearing on the election outcome. I have come to the mainstream and have been given a Congress ticket to fight the polls. I am sure I would get the blessings from the people and win the polls," Bora told IANS.

All the five were at one time among the most dreaded names in the ULFA.

"I had done lot of good work in my area during the last two terms and hope to repeat my success this time as well," Gogoi said.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had said two weeks ago that his party would not give tickets to any charge-sheeted leaders. But his views were ignored when the Congress high command included Debabrata Saikia, son of former chief minister Hiteswar Saika, in the list of candidates.

Saikia, contesting from the Nazira, was charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the multi-crore veterinary scam during his father's regime in the early 90s.

The scam involved a massive financial irregularities of about Rs.400 crore in the Assam animal husbandry and veterinary department between 1988 and 1992.

"Unless a person is convicted he is not guilty," Congress party in-charge for the Assam elections Digvijay Singh said referring to Saikia's candidature.

The second phase of the vote will be on April 11.







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