Thursday, March 23, 2023
HomePoliticsNDA wins both RS seats from Assam, bags eight votes from Congress-led...

NDA wins both RS seats from Assam, bags eight votes from Congress-led opposition

BJP’s Pabitra Margherita, with 46 votes & alliance partner United People's Party Liberal's Rwngwra Narzary, with 44 votes, trumped Congress's Ripun Bora, who received just 35 votes.

Text Size:

Guwahati: Thursday’s late-night counting for the Assam Rajya Sabha elections ended in the victory of the BJP-led NDA in both seats from the state. But perhaps the most significant takeaway from the elections was the difference between “ONE and 1”, which revealed the rift in the opposition camp.

BJP’s Pabitra Margherita — who received 46 votes, and alliance partner United People’s Party Liberal’s (UPPL) Rwngwra Narzary — with 44 votes — managed to trump Congress’s Ripun Bora, who received just 35 votes. One vote was rejected.

The ruling alliance managed to get eight more votes than the expected 82, which is the number of legislators that the BJP-UPPL-Asom Gana Parishad-Bodoland People’s Front combine has in the 126-member Assam assembly.

The rejected vote is presumed to be that of Congress’ Karimganj South MLA, Siddique Ahmed, who, the party alleged in a statement accessed by ThePrint, “intentionally wrote ONE instead of writing 1″, while indicating his preference for the Congress candidate. While casting votes for the Rajya Sabha, MLAs are required to indicate their order of preference against the names and photos of candidates. Numbers are usually used for the process.

Announcing Ahmed’s suspension Thursday, the Congress statement claimed, “As per the guidelines laid down in the constitution of Indian National Congress, Shri Siddique Ahmed, MLA, Karimganj South has violated the order.”

The BJP was also helped by former ally, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF). The BJP had dumped the BPF in December 2020 — ahead of the 2021 assembly elections in Assam — to ally with the United People’s Party Liberal. Earlier this year, however, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that the BPF will be supporting the BJP in the Assam Assembly and “will have total floor coordination” although the friendship wouldn’t extend outside the Assembly. On Thursday, three MLAs of the BPF voted for the NDA.

“Assam has reposed its faith in PM Sri Narendra Modi by electing two NDA candidates to the Rajya Sabha by huge margins — BJP’s Sri Pabitra Margherita (won by 11 votes) & UPPL’s Sri Rwngwra Narzary (won by 9 votes). My compliments to winners” tweeted CM Himanta Biswa Sarma following the counting.


Also read: Modi govt reduces areas under AFSPA in Nagaland, Manipur & Assam, 3 months after Mon incident

No Congress unity, ally amiss?

The opposition in the Assam assembly comprises the Congress — with 27 seats, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) — with 15 seats, and the CPI(M) and Raijor Dal — both of which have one seat each. Together these parties account for 44 seats in the assembly.

Cracks between the Congress and its ally, the AIUDF, first emerged ahead of the RS elections, when the former accused the latter of “selling” five MLAs to the BJP.

At a press conference Tuesday, Assam Congress chief Bhupen Kumar Borah said that he could guarantee votes from all 26 Congress lawmakers and one legislator each from CPI (M) and Raijor Dal. “But five lawmakers from AIUDF have been sold (to the BJP) and (Badruddin) Ajmal (AIUDF president) is directly involved. He tried to mislead all by casting aspersions on Congress lawmakers,” Borah said.

AIUDF organising secretary Md. Aminul Islam reportedly responded by saying that the party was “committed” to voting for Congress candidate Ripun Bora and would issue a whip to all their MLAs to ensure this.

Meanwhile, the Congress was battling problems from within the party.  In January, the party had suspended MLA Sashikanta Das, after he reportedly touched the feet of CM Sarma and state BJP president Bbhesh Kalita.

Ahead of the RS polls, Sarma was reported to have reached out to the suspended MLA, and even announced that Das would vote for the BJP candidate.

Doubts had also prevailed over who former Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed would vote for. Ahmed was suspended by the Congress in October last year, allegedly for “repeatedly violating party discipline”.

Troubles within the Congress were also blamed by ally AIUDF for Thursday’s loss.

“In one hour two Congress MLAs (a reference to Siddique Ahmed and Sashikanta Das, though Das had been suspended in January) have gone, then in 10 hours 20 MLAs will go,” AIUDF MLA Hafiz Rafiqul Islam said Thursday.

CM Sharma had also openly spoken of the divisions within the Congress Thursday morning, claiming seven Congress legislators had cross-voted in the RS polls. “We got seven votes of Congress. We don’t need AIUDF votes,” the CM had told reporters, referring to the Congress’ previous allegations against its ally.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Assam govt moves amendment to cattle preservation law, 4 months after assembly passed it


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular