The All Assam Students Union on Wednesday launched statewide protests against Assam Congress’ decision to field a candidate from outside the state, Sanjay Singh in Rajya Sabha election.
Singh filed his nomination papers on Tuesday and is all set to win in February 7 elections given the strength of the ruling Congress in the Assam assembly, with a total of 126 members.
Samujjal Bhattacharjya, AASU adviser, said, “We already have Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh representing Assam in Rajya Sabha, who has done nothing for the people of the state since 1991. What can we expect from Singh, a Congress member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, who doesn’t know anything about Assam? The Congress high command has converted Assam into a dumping ground and the ‘spineless’ Congress leaders from Assam including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhubaneswar Kalita are ever ready to fulfill the wishes of the high command.”
The AASU launched statewide protests burning effigies of Singh, Gogoi and Kalita. The AASU leader alleged that Gogoi had accepted the decision of the party high command to field Singh in the RS polls because he wanted the Lok Sabha ticket for his son Gaurav Gogoi.
Some members of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity, an influential mass organisation, on Wednesday staged protests in front of the hotel where Singh is staying in the city.
The police later arrested the demonstrators. Defending the decision to field Singh in the Rajya Sabha polls, Gogoi said, “The Congress is an all-India party. We can put up our candidates from any state. I hope Singh, whom I have known for 40 years, will work for the interest of people of Assam.”
Both the opposition Asom Gana Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party flayed the ruling Congress for the decision to put up an outside candidate for the Rajya Sabha election in the state.
Atul Bora, working president of the AGP, said, “It is shameful that the Congress had to import leaders to represent Assam in Rajya Sabha.”
Assam BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal said, “It is insulting to the people of Assam that the Congress has not found a suitable candidate from Assam to field in the Rajya Sabha election.”
Congress’ decision to field Singh has apparently united the Opposition parties to put up a joint candidate in fray and that may dash Congress’ hopes to win all the three Rajya Sabha seats in the fray.
The BJP, which had initially decided to stay away from voting, has now backed the common non-political candidate of the opposition. Haider Hussain, a popular journalist and former editor-in-chief of the largest circulated Assamese Daily, is the common candidate of the BJP, the AGP and All India United Democratic Front. With 32 MLAs in their kitty among the AIUDF (18), the AGP(9) and the BJP(5), the opposition candidate looks set to grab one of the three seats if there is no cross-voting.
Besides Singh and Hussain, Kalita and Bodoland People’s Front, the Congress’ ally at Dispur, candidate Biswajit Daimary are in the fray. Both Kalita and Daimary are sitting Rajya Sabha MPs whose terms are going to end.
Image:All Assam Student Union advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya speaking to the media at a press conference in Guwahati.