NEW DELHI: Scotching rumours that Lok Jan Shakti Paty (LJP) patriarch and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan would be given Rajya Sabha nomination from Assam, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday fielded former Jorhat MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa for the biennial election for the Upper House from the state.
The state’s second Rajya Sabha seat is likely to be contested by Birendra P Baishya of NDA ally Asom Gan Parishad.
The BJP had denied Lok Sabha ticket to Tasa from Jorhat, apparently apprehensive that the people wouldn’t rally behind him in the wake of violent protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. It, instead, fielded Topon Gogoi in a bid to appeal to the ethnic Assamese community.
“Paswan may be asked to fill the Rajya Sabha vacancy arising out of the election of outgoing Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency. The LJP chief would like to represent Bihar in the Upper House in a bid to remain attached to the state where he has spent his political career,” said a close aide of the Union minister.
Tasa is seen as a formidable leader with a strong following in about 27% tea garden vote base in the state.
“Tasa remained committed to the party even after he was denied renomination in the Lok Sabha elections. He had won the Jorhat Parliamentary constituency in 2014.
He is credited with BJP’s growing influence n various caste groups who have settled in Assam over the years, having arrived in the quest of jobs in the state’s tea gardens,” a senior BJP functionary said.
The two Rajya Sabha seats are deemed to be up for grabs next month for the BJP-AGP alliance, with numerical strength strongly in favour of the ruling alliance in the state.