Sitting Congress MP Biren Singh Engti, who has won four times from this seat, is facing a tough challenge from BJP's Joyram Engleng, former Chief Executive Magistrate of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, in this constituency spread over two strife-torn districts of Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong.
    
This seat has 7,01,268 voters comprising a diverse spectrum of Karbis, Dimasas, Nagas, Tiwas, Khasis, Jemi Nagas, Hmars, Kukis, Assamese, Bengalis, Adivasis, Bodos, Nepalis and Hindi-speaking communities.
    
Besides Engti and Engleng, there are three others in fray. The seat has five assembly constituencies--Haflong, Bokajan, Howraghat, Diphu and Baithalangso. All of them were won by Congress in 2011 assembly polls.
    
Autonomous state has been a key issue in the politics of the two districts for several decades, earlier spearheaded by the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC). The demand gained momentum with the creation of Telangana and triggered widespread violence in both the districts last year.
    
Majority of the tribal population, irrespective of party affiliations, have raised the demand for separate autonomous state under Article 244(A).
    
Article 244(A) refers to the formation of an autonomous state comprising certain tribal areas in Assam and creation of local legislature, or council of ministers, or both by law
under the Sixth Schedule.     

Various tribal and students' organizations along with militant groups had launched simultaneous protests for the creation of an autonomous state. The Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State (JACAS) was formed to take the demand forward.
    
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was given an ultimatum to clarify the government's stand on the issue but he remained non-committal, saying the matter was being discussed.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in an interaction with local people during his visit to Diphu before the announcement of poll notification also did not elaborate on the issue but promised to look into their demand.
    
BJP, however, has made this a major issue with its President Rajnath Singh flaying Congress for adopting double standards and not resolving the issue for so many decades.
    
The JACAS, meanwhile, has extended their support to BJP candidate Engleng.
    
Congress' Engti has been accused of not raising the issue of a separate state in the Parliament or other appropriate platforms.
    
Meanwhile, militant group Karbi People's Liberation Tiger (KPLT) had called for an indefinite bandh from April 8 and has threatened to disrupt the polls if political parties do not make their stand on the autonomous state clear.
    
Sporadic incidents of violence by KPLT and attempt of land encroachment in Karbi Anglong along the Assam-Nagaland border are other issues that have figured prominently during campaign for this seat.

(Agencies)

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