Setback for opposition block in Assam; CPI(M) names candidate in Congress seat

CPI(M) Assam State Secretary Suprakash Talukdar
CPI(M) Assam State Secretary Suprakash Talukdar

Guwahati | In a jolt to the Congress-led opposition alliance in Assam, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday announced that its MLA Manoranjan Talukdar will contest from the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat, for which the grand old party has announced its candidate.

Addressing a press conference here, CPI(M) Assam State Secretary Suprakash Talukdar said the party has decided to field its veteran leader and legislator Manoranjan Talukdar from the Barpeta seat.

The CPI(M) MLA currently represents the Sorbhog assembly constituency, which falls under the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat.

"For the greater interest of the people, we appeal to Congress to withdraw its candidate from Barpeta. We appeal to everyone to vote for the strongest anti-BJP candidate and make him win", the CPI(M) state secretary said.

The Barpeta seat is currently represented by Congress MP Abdul Khaleque, who has been denied ticket this time and Deep Bayan will fight the polls from the linguistically as well as religiously sensitive constituency.

Bayan is the president of Assam Pradesh Congress Seva Dal and a senior spokesperson of the APCC.

CPI(M) is a part of the United Opposition Forum Assam (UOFA), formed in the state with 16 parties in line with the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

Asked why the Left party put up a candidate a day after the Congress announced its nominee, the state secretary said: "We had intimated to them long back that we would give a candidate in Barpeta, where CPI(M) has a strong base for decades. But they did not listen to us and went ahead.

CPI(M)'s nominee Talukdar claimed that the Congress decision to field a candidate in Barpeta will directly help the BJP-led ruling alliance.

"If Congress fights in 13 out 14 seats in Assam, where is the opposition unity? They are not the only party. It cannot be a unilateral decision," the veteran politician said.

On the other hand, Deputy Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi justified fielding Bayan from Barpeta and said the party is confident of winning the seat.

"I have never seen a Seva Dal worker fighting elections and winning. But Congress is the only party which recognises the contributions of all stakeholders and promotes them too," he told reporters.

Another UOFA member, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has already announced candidates for three seats in Assam. The Communist Party of India (CPI) also said that it is considering contesting from a few seats in the state.

From the ruling front, BJP's alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has nominated senior leader, former minister and sitting Bongaigaon MLA Phani Bhusan Choudhury to contest from Barpeta for the Lok Sabha elections.

Out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, the Congress announced candidates for 12 seats. It has offered Dibrugarh seat to alliance partner Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), while no decision has been taken yet on Lakhimpur constituency.

The BJP named 11 Lok Sabha candidates from Assam. The remaining three seats are left for allies -- two for AGP and one for United People's Party Liberal (UPPL).

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