Guwahati: Half of the 40 candidates whose names were announced in the Congress’ first list for Assam assembly elections are fresh faces, while the party will consult former chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s family members before deciding on a nominee for Titabor seat which was held by him for four consecutive terms before his death.

The grand old party late on Saturday night released the first list of 40 candidates for the 47 constituencies that are going to polls in the first phase on March 27.

The list has the names of 20 new faces and six sitting MLAs including Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia in Nazira.

The BJP is eyeing the prestigious Titabor seat, which was held by the three-time chief minister who died due to post-COVID complications on November 23 last year, while the Congress is seeking to retain it.

Apart from Titabor, the names of candidates for Tinsukia, Dhakuakhana, Behali, Dhing and Bokakhat and AIUDF-held Naoboicha are yet to be announced.

A decision regarding these seats will be taken soon. A few of these constituencies will be given to alliance partners, a Congress spokesperson said.

Apart from Saikia, legislators who were renominated are former minister Rakibul Hussain in Samaguri, Md Nurul Huda in Rupohihat, Rupjyoti Kurmi in Mariani, Roselina Tirkey in Sarupathar and Durga Bhumij in Doomdooma.

Golaghat is witnessing interesting developments as a former minister and sitting MLA Ajanta Neog quit Congress to contest the polls on a BJP ticket, while former AGP candidate Bitupan Saikia, who joined the BJP after being defeated by Neog in the 2016 elections by a narrow margin of 5,213 votes, switched over to the Congress and was given a party ticket.

Also read: Lurinjyoti Gogoi to contest from Duliajan, AJP releases candidate list

State Congress chief and Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora will contest the Gohpur assembly seat where his wife Monica Bora was defeated by the BJP candidate by nearly 30,000 votes.

The party has also given tickets to 12 candidates, including four women, who had lost by slim margins in the 2016 assembly elections. This includes Rana Goswami in Jorhat, Sushanta Borgohain in Thowra, Suruj Dehinga in Mahmara, Bhupen Kumar Borah in Bihpuria, Praneswar Basumatary in Sootea, Dhruba Gogoi in Duliajan and Etuwa Munda in Tingkhong.

In Majuli seat, the party has renominated Ranoj Kumar Pegu who had represented it for three consecutive terms since 2001 but was defeated by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal by over 18,000 votes in the 2016 elections.

The four women who have been renominated by the party from the same constituencies that they had lost in the last election are former ministers Pranatee Phukan in Naharkatiya, Bismita Gogoi in Khumtai, Pallabi Gogoi in Teok and Angkita Dutta in Amguri.

The lone new woman candidate in the first phase of polling is Sibamoni Bora, who has been pitted against actor- turned-sitting BJP MLA Angoorlata Deka in Batadroba constituency.

Besides Bitupan Saikia in Golaghat, the party has also fielded former BJP leader and Tezpur MP Ram Prasad Sarma, who recently joined the Congress, in Barchalla seat.

The party’s other new candidates are in Dhekiajuli, Tezpur, Rangapara, Bishwanath, Kaliabor, Sonari, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Jonai, Moran, Dibrugarh, Lahowal, Chabua, Digboi, Margherita and Sadiya seats.

The Congress is contesting the upcoming elections as a part of ‘Grand Alliance’ with the AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M), CPI, CPI-ML and Anchalik Gana Morcha.

Elections to the 126-member assembly will be held in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6.

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