GUWAHATI: In a morale booster ahead of next month’s Assembly polls in Assam, the ruling Congress on Monday won two Rajya Sabha seats. The BJP and its allies Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), who had backed an Independent, pulled out at the last-minute, thereby making it a cakewalk for the Congress.
Congress candidates, former minister Ripun Bora and former Lok Sabha MP Ranee Narah, bagged 38 and 47 votes respectively in the 126-member House that now has an effective strength of 112 because of resignations. Altogether 85 MLAs, including 67 from the Congress, 16 from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), one from the BJP and an Independent, voted in favour of them. The AIUDF MLAs’ voting in favour of the Congress candidates is being seen as a confirmation of the minority-based party’s alleged tacit understanding with the ruling party in the upcoming elections.
Independent candidate, businessman Mahavir Jain, drew a blank in the election for the Upper House. Except for a BJP MLA, Manoranjan Das, who has been denied a ticket for the Assembly polls, none from the BJP, AGP or BPF took part in the voting. The BPF, which had first backed Jain, then accused him of hobnobbing with the Congress.
Gogoi Claims Support from Across parties
Soon after the Rajya Sabha elections, in an obvious reference to the cross-voting by a BJP member and the support of the AIUDF, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, “Now, people of the state will realise that I have support from across the parties.” PCC President Anjan Dutta termed the result a “signal” before the Assembly polls. “Earlier, I was sure of winning 70 seats but now I am confident of winning at least 78 seats in the Assembly polls,” he said. A two-phased assembly election will be held in Assam on April 4 and April 11, and counting for all its 126 seats will be on May 19.