Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Floods, erosion, child marriage major issues in Assam's Dhubri where Badruddin Ajmal seeks fourth term

The minority-dominated seat is gripped with illiteracy, poverty, child marriage, high maternal and infant mortality rates and high crime rates, issues all candidates seek to resolve.
Last Updated : 05 May 2024, 08:58 IST
Last Updated : 05 May 2024, 08:58 IST

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Dhubri, Assam: Floods, erosion, poverty and child marriage dominate the poll narrative in Assam's Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency, where AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal is locked in a triangular contest to retain the seat for the fourth consecutive term.

The minority-dominated seat, which shares around 142-km-long border with Bangladesh, a major part of which is riverine, bears the brunt of annual floods in Brahmaputra and erosion caused by the river, and is gripped with illiteracy, poverty, child marriage, high maternal and infant mortality rates and high crime rates, issues all candidates seek to resolve.

The seat has always been represented by a Muslim and was a Congress bastion till Ajmal breached the fort in 2009 and held it since then.

However, this time, Ajmal may be troubled by anti-incumbency and face a tough competition from Congress nominee and former minister Rakibul Hussain, in support of whom Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has held an election rally, and NDA nominee Zabed Islam of the Asom Gana Parishad, with both contenders alleging that the AIUDF supremo has failed to deliver on all fronts.

A total of 13 candidates are in the fray in the constituency, which will go to polls in the third phase on May 7. The Lok Sabha seat comprises 11 assembly segments and has a total electorate of 26,43,403, of whom 13,53,952 are men and 12,89,451 women.

Muslims comprise 79.67 per cent of the population of the constituency, which comprises Dhubri and South Salmara districts and a part of Goalpara.

Islam, a former MLA and a local, claimed that both Hussain and Ajmal are 'outsiders' who are not concerned about the problems faced by the people of the constituency. While Hussain hails from Nagaon district, Ajmal is from Hojai, both in central Assam.

"Ajmal claims only he can solve the problems of the minorities. People have given him three terms, but he failed miserably with Dhubri remaining one of the most backward areas in the state," Hussain alleged.

The AIUDF leader, however, countered the allegations saying that it was during his term as the MP that connectivity improved, Dhubri Medical College and Hospital was established and work for Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge started.

He claimed that minorities suffered tremendously during the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and it was due to his efforts that many members of the Muslim community found their names in the final list.

"Most of the D-voters (where D stands for doubtful) are from the minority community, with many being from Dhubri, and we are trying our best to ensure that these issues are resolved at the earliest," he added.

The AGP candidate, who labeled Ajmal and Hussain as 'outsiders who do not understand the needs of the people', asserted, "I, on the other hand, live among the people and am aware of what they want. I am confident that people will vote for the NDA this time."

"People have witnessed the development work undertaken by the NDA governments at the Centre and the state. They want the same in Dhubri... people want that the problem of floods and erosion, which have rendered many people homeless in the constituency, be resolved," Islam said.

Hussain, on the other hand, labelled AIUDF as 'B-team' of the BJP and claimed that Ajmal will not raise his voice against the ruling party.

"He is only interested in becoming an MP again, but we will not let that happen this time," the Congress candidate asserted.

Islam asserted that the constituency is rich historically and culturally and must not be labelled as only a minority-inhabited seat.

Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur had visited Dhubri, with a gurdwara commemorating the event, while eminent actor-filmmaker Pramathesh Barua, Goalpariya singer Pratima Pandey Barua and her younger sister Parbati Barua, the only woman mahout in the country, were also from the royal family of Gauripur in the district.

"We have a rich heritage which must be reserved for posterity... the constituency must not be labelled only for minorities," Islam said.

He said the constituency is backward and the highest number of cases related to child marriage was reported in Dhubri district during a crackdown by the state government against the social menace last year.

Minority women are in favour of the government's move to stop child marriage as they are the worst affected, he asserted, adding they have received several benefits from the NDA government at the state and Centre which will improve their lives considerably.

Ajmal, however, claimed that the crackdown on child marriage was the BJP's attempt to 'provoke' Muslims and polarise voters in its favour.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have addressed rallies in the constituency in support of their respective nominees.

The high-pitched campaign in the constituency will end on Sunday and voting will be held on May 7.

Published 05 May 2024, 08:58 IST

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