Women power lead from front in Guwahati

Queen Oja and Bobbeeta Sharma performing Bihu dance together in Guwahati. Photo by Hemanta Nath

The women power is at its best and will fight against each other for the prestigious Gauhati Lok Sabha seat in Assam, going for polls on Tuesday.

Only five among 19 candidates in the fray are women but the fight seems to be between the two prominent women candidates—Queen Oja of BJP and Congress’ Bobbeeta Sharma. Oja, who switched from BJP to the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is a former Mayor of Guwahati, while Bobbeeta is a media professional, who earned popularity as an anchor in Doordarshan.

BJP’s Bijoya Chakraborty has won the seat thrice since 1999, but this is for the first time the constituency will witness a straight fight between two women candidates. Chakraborty, a veteran politician was replaced with Oja this time as a common candidate of BJP-AGP.

“Passing the bill for 33% reservation for women is a promise of our party and I will also push hard for the same. Being a woman candidate, working for the women is definitely one of my priorities,” Sharma said, amid a campaign rally here, where she urged people to vote against BJP to prevent the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill from being passed. “It is a fight for the protection of the identity of the indigenous people. So I urge all, particularly the women to come out and vote against the bill being promised by BJP,” Sharma said.

Oja, on the other hand, is banking on the Narendra Modi government’s schemes aimed at women. “My constituency has a large number of women weavers and working for them will be one of my focus areas,” she said. Weaving is common in every household in Assam, particularly in rural areas.

Amid the election campaign and blame game, both Oja and Sharma drew attention when both danced together to celebrate the Rongali Bihu festival on April 17. 

Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats but Sushmita Dev of Congress in Silchar and Pramila Rani Brahma of Bodoland People’s Front, an ally of BJP-led state government in Kokrajhar are the only two other prominent women candidates contesting this election. Susmita had won in 2014 and is also a favourite this time but Pramila will face a tough fight from sitting MP Naba Kumar Sarania and former Rajya Sabha member, Urkhao Grwa Brama.

“Guwahati is a seat where the victory of a woman candidate is sure. Because the fight is going to be between the two women candidates,” hoped Ranjeeta Bora, a student of Handique Girls’ Cotton.

Junmoni Bora Khaund, Rubi Neog and Mamoni Sarma are the three other women candidates contesting as Independents.

Gauhati Lok Sabha seat having 10 Assembly constituencies has a total of 21, 78,617 voters, including 10, 77,793 women voters.

Elections for four Lok Sabha seats in Assam including Guwahati will be held on Tuesday. Elections for 10 others were conducted on April 11 and 18. 

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