It apparently pays to be the son of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s landlady.
Debabrata Saikia, 46, is the son of former Assam chief minister Hiteswar Saikia and his widow and former sericulture minister Hemoprova Saikia. That, Congress insiders say, wouldn’t have qualified him for a party ticket for Mandate 2011 without his PM connection.
Singh has been a tenant of the Saikias since 1991 when he became a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam for the first time. He has been paying a tad more than Rs 700 per month for a two bedroom first floor flat – House No. 3938 – owned by the Saikias at Nandanpur in Guwahati’s Sarumotoria locality.The PM virtually enjoys a kinship with the Saikias, and is said to have pressed for Debabrata Saikia’s candidature from Nazira constituency in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district. Nazira went to Hemoprova Saikia after Hiteswar Saikia’s death in 1996, but she lost in 2006.
“Saikia was the PM’s lone candidate possibly by virtue of being the son of the latter’s landlady,” said a former minister who won from one of the eastern Assam assembly constituencies. “Having won, he is expected to be made a parliamentary secretary if not given a berth in Tarun Gogoi’s 18-member cabinet.”
Without the PM tag, PCC leaders said, Saikia junior would not have been in the reckoning for a place of importance given the cold vibes Gogoi – he would be sworn in chief minister for the third time on Wednesday – shared with the Saikias.
For Gogoi, though, accommodating other ‘deserving’ winners is more of a worry. “We had in 2005 asked the Centre for increasing the ministry size in the 126-member House from 15% to 25% to ensure every region within the state is well represented. However, we have decided to increase the number of parliamentary secretaries from the present 10.”
Gogoi has also proposed a set of principal parliamentary secretaries with more powers than the principal secretaries, all of whom would be having a status close to that of a cabinet minister.