Ensuring that he will stay in Parliament till 2019, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently on an official visit to Thailand, was on Thursday elected for the fifth consecutive time to the Rajya Sabha from Assam.
It was a foregone conclusion that the PM was going to sail through the polls, having represented Assam in the upper chamber for the last 22 years. But, still the state congress unit issued a whip to all its legislators on Wednesday, worried about dissidence within its rank.
In a statement from Bangkok after his reelection, Singh said that it was a “great honour that the people of Assam, through their elected representatives, have given me an opportunity to serve them again”.
“I have been representing Assam in the Rajya Sabha ever since 1991 and in this period it has been my constant endeavour to work for the State’s development and prosperity to the best of my ability,” he said.
He thanked the people of Assam and its legislators, and also Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the congressmen who helped him return to the Rajya Sabha, after his term was ending on June 14. The Congress now has five members out of seven in Assam to the Rajya Sabha. The other two seats are being held by the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodoland People’s Front.
Singh polled 49 votes in the 126-member Assembly, with the second seat going to first-timer Santiuse Kujur who secured 45 seats.
The Congress has 78 members in the Assembly, while its ally, the Bodoland People’s Front, has 12 MLAs. The Opposition AGP and the BJP stayed away from voting. It means that Manmohan Singh will enter the history books for being the only prime minister who was in the Rajya Sabha during his entire term of office.
He had first time been elected in 1991. After Singh flew in for a whirlwind visit on May 15 to file his nomination, there had been a little drama over his date of birth and house number not matching earlier documents.
Two days before scrutiny of papers, a fresh affidavit was filed which corrected his age to 80 years.
While Singh’s re-election was never in doubt, there had been vocal dissension in Assam Congress, after the nomination of the second vacant seat went to Santiuse Kujur.