GUWAHATI: BJP leader and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday claimed “many” MLAs of the opposition Congress would join the ruling BJP in the near future.
“(Congress’s) Lakhipur MLA Rajdeep Gowala will join the BJP in the next one-two days,” Sarma told journalists in Guwahati.
Asked about rumours that a lady MLA from the Congress will also join the BJP, the minister said, “There are many others (Congress MLAs) who will join the BJP.”
The Congress pooh-poohed his claim.
“None from the Congress will go to the BJP. On the contrary, their MLAs are going to join the Congress,” MP and Assam Congress president Ripun Bora said.
Meanwhile, the battlelines have been drawn for the Rajya Sabha elections to three seats from the state.
There are three candidates in the fray – Bhubaneswar Kalita of the BJP, Biswajit Daimary of BJP’s ally Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and journalist Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, who is the consensus candidate of the Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
The 126-member Assam House now has an effective strength of 125 members following the death of a Congress MLA. BJP and its allies BPF and Asom Gana Parishad together have 87 MLAs and they should win two seats. The Congress and AIUDF combine has 37 MLAs.
Sarma criticised Bhuyan, the consensus candidate of Congress-AIUDF, stating that if the journalist’s goal was to become a member of the Rajya Sabha, he should have joined the AIUDF earlier.
“I extend my best wishes to those who want to succeed in the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) by riding piggyback on AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal,” he said.
Bhuyan had actively participated in the anti-CAA agitation in Assam. Ajmal had earlier proposed the name of Priyanka Gandhi as the consensus candidate of Congress and AIUDF. It was not accepted by the Congress’s central leadership.