Influx issue may dominate BJP-led government’s first assembly session

  • Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
  • Updated: May 31, 2016 11:45 IST
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his cabinet colleagues have said the Bangladesh influx issue is on top of their agenda. (PTI)

The three-day Assam assembly session from June 1 will be the first for the BJP-led alliance government headed by Sarbananda Sonowal.

The session will see governor PB Acharya’s customary speech, oath-taking by the newly-elected MLAs, election of a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker besides selection of members for new legislature committees.

The session will also mark a couple of firsts. BJP legislators will be occupying the assembly’s treasury bench for the first time since contesting the state polls in 1985. The assembly will also have an officially-recognised leader of Opposition for the first time in 10 years.

An opposition party needs to have a minimum 21 MLAs in the 126-member assembly for its leader to get the formal status. In the last assembly election in 2011, perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) came close with 18 seats.

Congress, the main opposition party this time, has 26 MLAs. Former chief minister Hiteswar Saikia’s son Debrabata Saikia, the chosen Congress Legislature Party leader, is set to be the Opposition leader.

The BJP and its ruling allies — Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People’s Front — have 86 seats.

A session staple is the debate on the governor’s customary address, which is likely to touch upon the development objectives of the new government and the issue of Bangladeshi immigrants.

Chief minister Sonowal and his cabinet colleagues have said the influx issue is on top of their agenda. The Congress and AIUDF, which has 13 MLAs, have cautioned against hasty action so that “genuine Indian citizens” are not victimised.

The Bangladeshi issue has plagued Assam since the 1979-1985 anti-foreigners’ Assam Agitation that led to the birth of AGP in 1985 and saw the BJP sprout roots that year. The BJP accuses Congress, the Left Front and AIUDF of patronising infiltrators for vote-bank politics.

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