Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP, allies set eyes on Assam RS berths

With barely a week left for the last date of nomination for elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Assam, a number of state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders as well as those of Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) partners are in contention for one of the seats. The other seat has been offered to Lok Janshakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan.

A senior BJP leader, who is involved with the party’s affairs in the Northeast, said that negotiations are going on with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) as well as the Bodo People’s Front (BPF), both NEDA partners.

“Negotiations are going on and we are trying to convince our alliance partners to support a BJP candidate,” said the leader.

In case both AGP and the BPF come to the table, the probable BJP candidate, who could be given a ticket, would be among those denied Lok Sabha tickets. These include Kamakhya P Tasa, former union minister Rajen Gohain and Ramen Deka.

However, getting the partners to agree could prove to be tricky for the BJP, as it had promised the AGP a Rajya Sabha seat apart from state ministerial portfolios when it joined the NEDA again after breaking away during the Citizenship Amendment Bill agitation.

“The BJP had promised us a Rajya Sabha seat early this year. It was part of the agreement of going back to the NEDA,” said AGP president Atul Bora.

The two seats fell vacant after tenures of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur ended. The elections to the two seats will be held on June 7. The last date for filing the nominations for the seats is May 28.

Paswan’s candidature was part of the BJP’s coalition agreement in Bihar, and he is likely to file his nomination in a day or two.

The Congress, with just 25 legislators in the Assam assembly, is short of the 42 votes it needs to win a seat. Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has 13 legislators, the AGP 14 and BPF 12. The ruling BJP has 61 lawmakers.

Ripun Borah, the Congress’s state president, said that while they do not have the numbers, they are willing to vote for a consensus candidate. “…If the AIUDF and the AGP come together, we can send a candidate who can take up the Citizenship Amendment Bill matter in the Upper House,” said Borah.

First Published:
May 23, 2019 07:11 IST

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