Elections for two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, to be held on Thursday, seem to be heading for a thrilling conclusion.
Although the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power at the Center as well as in the states, has enough MLAs to win one seat, Chief Minister Himanta Bishwa Sharma has both expressed confidence of victory. This has embarrassed the opposition Congress.
The BJP has fielded Holy Gogoi Margherita from one seat and its ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) has fielded Rungwa Narjari from the other.
“Congress does not know that many of its MLAs are going to join BJP. Also, candidates are not obliged to follow the whip issued by the party in Rajya Sabha elections. With this calculation, we will manage to get both the seats, “said Bishwa Sharma recently.
The only Congress candidate is former MP Ripun Bora. “Congress has numbers and I’m confident we will win,” he said.
Each winning candidate needs at least 43 votes.
In the 126-member Assam Legislative Assembly, the BJP has 63 MLAs, while the allied Assam People’s Council (AGP) and UPPL have nine and seven MLAs respectively. The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has started supporting the BJP, has 3 MLAs.
Thus, in total, the BJP has at least 82 possible votes.
The Congress has 26 MLAs. It is also counting on the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) with 15 MLAs and one each from the RJD and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). If all these legislators support the Congress, they will have 44 votes.
Thus, while the Congress apparently has enough votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat, the BJP’s confidence has given it reason to be cautious.
After Himanta Bishwa Sharma’s remarks, Congress Assam in-charge Jitendra Singh arrived in Guwahati and held meetings with party MLAs.
The Congress has also issued a three-line whip to its legislators on election day, in the hope that there will be no cross-voting for the BJP.
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