GUWAHATI: With Assembly elections in the state barely a few months away, Assam’s ruling Congress MLAs are making a beeline to join the BJP. After former Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma joined the party last Sunday, a group of nine Congress legislators have expressed their desire to sport saffron on their sleeves.
Led by Sarma, who had earlier made an abortive bid to unseat Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the nine MLAs met BJP national president Amit Shah at his New Delhi residence on Saturday and “expressed their desire” to join the party. Later, they told reporters that their joining the BJP was only a matter of time.
Recently, the Congress suspended four of these MLAs for six years and served show-cause notices on the five others for “anti-party” activities. While some of them had accompanied Sarma on his return journey from New Delhi on the day he joined the BJP, others had gone to the airport to receive him.
In the 126-member Assam House, the Congress has 77 members. So, even if the nine rebel Congress MLAs join the BJP, the grand old party will still have the number to remain in power. But Sarma claimed that more “Congress leaders” were headed to the BJP. He did not specify if they included any elected representative.
During the height of dissidence against Gogoi, Sarma had managed to bring 52 party MLAs to his side.
“The nine Congress MLAs haven’t joined the BJP today (Saturday) but they will do so soon, formally. Another 500-plus Congress men, including leaders, will join the BJP in the coming days,” he claimed.
“The BJP has a mission to win at least 84 seats in the next polls. We will strive towards achieving the target,” the Congress rebels said.
The development prompted the Congress to announce that all sitting MLAs of the party would be issued tickets during the next polls.
The Congress has been in power in the state since 2001. The party’s worst ever performance was during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which it won just three of the 14 seats, as against the BJP’s seven.