The Congress in Assam on Monday won two Rajya Sabha seats comfortably after the BJP and its allies pulled out in the last minute, leaving the independent candidate they had backed high and dry.
The victory came as a morale-booster ahead of the two-phase assembly polls scheduled on April 4 and 11. But the Congress came across as having struck an assembly poll deal with perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), all of whose MLAs voted for the Congress candidates.
Former minister Ripun Bora, the Congress’ first preference candidate got 38 votes while former Lok Sabha member and second preference Ranee Narah got 47 in the 126-member assembly with an effective strength of 112 because of resignations.
Apart from 67 Congress MLAs, 16 of AIUDF, one of BJP and an independent candidate voted ensured the win for Narah.
Businessman Mahavir Jain, the independent candidate who the BPF had nominated, drew a blank.
This was because the BPF, reduced to 11 legislators after one switched over to Congress a few days ago, abstained from voting after accusing Jain of having hobnobbed with the Congress.
The BJP went with BPF, as did legislators of the third ally Asom Gana Parishad.
“I do not know what happened. There was no indication even in the morning,” Jain said, denying BPF president Hagrama Mohilary’s charge.
Jain had expected to sail through with 43 votes from non-Congress legislators including 16 of AIUDF.
The hype the Congress had generated about BJP and AIUDF joining hands to make Jain win is believed to have made both parties develop cold feet.
But the Congress went on the defensive after the five AIUDF voted for its RS candidates. “The BJP made them vote as part of a conspiracy against the Congress. We have no truck with AIUDF, never will,” state Congress president Anjan Dutta, an MLA from Amguri constituency, said.
“The Congress seems to be taking the voters for granted. The Rajya Sabha election has exposed its underhand dealings with AIUDF,” state BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal said.
Bora and Narah would be replacing Pankaj Bora and Naznin Faruque, also of the Congress, whose terms end in April. Assam sends seven members to the Rajya Sabha, six of whom are of Congress. BPF has a lone member – Biswajit Daimary.
The Congress elders from Assam include former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Uttar Pradesh-based Sanjay Singh.
Tripura seat for CPM: In Tripura, CPI-M candidate Jharna Das Baidya was re-elected from the 60-member assembly. The CPI-M has 50 legislators, but one could not take part in the poll as he is undergoing treatment for cancer.
The northeast did bring cheer to the NDA last week with KG Kenye, candidate of its constituent Naga People’s Front (NPF) declared winner unopposed last week. All 60 legislators in the Nagaland assembly belong to the NPF-led alliance.
(With input from Priyanka Deb Barman in Agartala)