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Home > News > Report

Who will accompany PM to RS from Assam?

May 07, 2007 11:09 IST

Hectic politicking has begun for the elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Assam, even as the Opposition is still in disarray over the fielding of a 'common' candidate.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is certain to get re-elected for the fourth consecutive time from the state, a consensus candidate by a combined opposition is still elusive for the second seat, which falls vacant after Bharatiya Janata Party leader Indramoni Bora's term expires on June 14.

The Congress, having 53 seats in the 126-member Assembly, has decided against fielding a candidate for the second seat.

"Dr Singh will be the lone candidate from the Congress from Assam," Pradesh Congress general secretary Dr Haren Das said.

The added backing of the Bodoland People's Progressive Front (Hagrama Mohilary faction), which has 13 seats, and one from the Nationalist Congress Party will make Dr Singh's election a mere formality.

Dr Singh is slated to file his nomination papers on Tuesday during his stay in the state for a two-day visit.

However, the opposition is in a sticky wicket, as none of the parties are in a position to get its candidate elected independently.

The single largest opposition party, Assam Gana Parishad, has sought support from the other parties for fielding a common candidate.

An AGP spokesperson said after a party meeting on Sunday, "The party has appointed one of its general secretaries to hold parleys with other parties and arrive at a consensus. The AGP, being the single largest opposition party with 24 seats, should be given the edge."

On the other hand, the BJP is likely to field its candidate.

BJP president Ramen Deka said, "We will be fielding our candidate. We have written to the AGP for support. Given the rotation system the opposition has been following, the BJP should field its candidate this time. Last time, the AGP had fielded its candidate, but without success."

Be that as it may, the permutation and combination for the second seat will centre around the BJP and the AUDF, both being staunch rivals.

While the BJP also felt that the opposition camp should grab the second seat, the party has ruled out supporting an AUDF candidate for the seat. But the AUDF, which stunned the observers by bagging as many as ten seats in its maiden appearance in the last assembly elections in the state, will play the role of the king maker.

AUDF insiders have hinted that the party should have a representation in the Rajya Sabha.

While ruling out any support to the Congress, AUDF working president Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury said, "We would want to field our own candidate. We are talking with the AGP and the left parties. If the BJP supports us, it would be an advantage."

A meeting of the AUDF on May 9 will finalise its decision.

Given the bickering in the opposition camp, twelve independent legislators, six of whom are 'associate members' of the Congress, can be crucial, and it would not be surprising if a Congress-backed candidate sails through the second seat as well.

There are also speculations that in the event of the opposition failing to arrive at a consensus, a ''neutral'' candidate may be another option. Doing the rounds are names like noted journalist Hiren Gohain and peace interlocutor Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

Eminent musician Dr Bhupen Hazarika, who was also in the list of probable 'neutral' candidates, himself opted out from the scene.