A Pauper Armed for the Polls With the Wealth of Confidence

He campaigns alone in a friend’s vehicle. There is not a single poster or banner of him in the constituency.

Published: 03rd April 2016 04:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd April 2016 04:19 AM   |  A+A-

JORHAT:Diganta Phukan, 37, is the poorest candidate in the Assam poll fray. He hasn’t any money to spend but his body language makes up for it.

“So, you’ve come to meet the MLA?” was how he started the conversation with Express. “When you meet me next, you will find me surrounded by my PSOs,” he said, confidently.

His affidavit, submitted to the Election Commission, suggested he has no cash in hand or at the bank. In fact, he does not have any property at all. He lives in a house owned by his mother, with his wife and four-year-old daughter. He campaigns alone in a friend’s vehicle. There is not a single poster or banner of him in the constituency.

The Class 10 graduate is contesting from Mariani in Jorhat district, which shares its border with Nagaland, in the first phase of the polls on April 4. He is pitted against two-time sitting Congress MLA Roopjyoti Kurmi, who has a solid support base in the tea estates that constitute a majority of voters, and “philanthropist” Alok Kumar Ghosh of the Nationalist Congress Party.

Phukan was a Congress worker for more than two decades before parting ways with the party three years ago, as the leadership “failed to recognise my services to the people”.

“I have been to every nook and corner of the constituency. People know me and love me. I strongly believe in democracy and I am sure they will give their blessings by making me the MLA,” he said.

Mariani has been represented by the Kurmi family for five terms barring 18 months after Ghosh won the 2004 bypolls, necessitated by the death of Kurmi’s mother, Rupam.

Asked how he would defeat his rich rivals, Phukan said, philosophically, “Money cannot always win you votes... What is important is your connect with the public, not money. Look at those (motorcycle-borne) youth, campaigning for the BJP candidate. I have known them since their childhood. They are not going to vote for him but for me. I’ve no doubt about it.”

After bihar, no poll day ads sans ec nod

The Election Commission on Saturday said no newspaper advertisements could be published on April 3 and 4 in poll-bound Assam and West Bengal without prior clearance. In both states, the first phase of polling begins Monday. The move comes in the backdrop of controversial advertisements issued by BJP during the Bihar polls. “Such advertisements in the last stage of election vitiates the election. The affected candidates and parties will not have any opportunity of providing clarification or rebuttal in such cases,” it said.

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