GUWAHATI: Apprehending attempts of poaching by the ruling BJP, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has shifted 10 of its 11 candidates of the recently-concluded Assam elections overseas.
This comes two days after the ten-party grand alliance of Opposition had flown out 20 candidates – 18 from the All India United Democratic Front and two from the Congress – to Rajasthan.
The only BPF candidate to remain in Assam is Minister Pramila Rani Brahma. She confirmed the development surrounding her party, which is a component of the Opposition alliance.
“Yes, they left yesterday (Saturday) but I have no idea which country exactly they are visiting. I could not contact them,” Brahma told this newspaper on Sunday.
Sources said the BPF candidates had left for Singapore. Sixteen Members of Council Legislative Assembly (MCLA) of the autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council, which administers four districts, accompanied them.
Asked if the candidates were moved out of the country to thwart attempts of poaching by the BJP, Brahma said, “We cannot rule out the possibility of horse-trading”.
She added that the MCLAs had plans to go on a foreign trip after the month-long hectic election campaign.
Sources in the Congress said the party would also shift its candidates outside the state.
“We have to be cautious. We are trying to protect our candidates from the BJP’s anti-democratic activities,” Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition, Debabrata Saikia told journalists.
Amidst the efforts by the Opposition parties to protect their candidates against possible poaching, BJP MLA Shiladitya Deb said horse-trading does also take place online these days.
“If someone is not happy over the selection of party candidates, he will run away even if confined to his home,” Deb, who was denied a ticket, said even as he asserted the BJP does not buy or sell MLAs.
“A BPF candidate had run away by opting out of the poll race. Who will you blame? The leaders of the Congress and the AIUDF are worried as they fear their MLAs might leave their parties for the lust of power,” Deb added.