The BJP and its allies in the NDA are hoping to cross a Rajya Sabha hurdle before the Assam assembly polls on April 4 and 11. Polls to fill up the two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam and one from Nagaland are scheduled on March 21.
The NDA is sure of the Nagaland seat, as candidate KG Kenye is a leader of ruling ally Naga People’s Front (NPF). All 60 legislators in the Nagaland assembly belong to the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland that has the BJP and JD(U).
In Assam, the BJP has reportedly joined hands with the ideologically opposite All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) to deny the Congress one of the two seats by backing Mahavir Jain, an independent candidate.
The Bodoland People’s Front, BJP’s ally for the assembly polls, nominated Jain, who is also backed by the Asom Gana Parishad. The common factor for the divergent opposition has been the minority tag for Jain’s community. “The current LS and RS have no member from the Jain community,” Jain, president of Kamrup Chamber of Commerce as well as Jain Samaj, said.
Jain hopes to sail through with the backing of 43 MLAs in the opposition. The Congress has 69 MLAs with an effective strength of 114 (due to resignations), two others cannot vote. If the Congress’ first candidate and former minister Ripun Bora is assured of votes of 40 Congress MLAs, the chances of second choice candidate and former MP Ranee Narah appear bleak. The Congress is wary of the impact the loss of one RS seat could have on the assembly polls. Besides, most MLAs were not happy with the “imposition” of the two candidates by AICC.
A majority of the Congress MLAs had sought nominations for former MP Paban Singh Ghatowar and former minister Abdul Muhib Majundar, who represent tea tribes or Adivasis and Muslims.
“The choice of candidates for the RS seats does not give the right message ahead of the assembly polls,” a Pradesh Congress leader said.