The BJP and its ally, the United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL), won both Rajya Sabha seats from Assam on a day marked by high drama, including the suspension of a Congress MLA and allegations of cross-voting.
“We won both the Rajya Sabha seats from Assam (one day the BJP and other by UPPL, our partner) by a huge margin of 11 and 9 votes respectively.” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted late Thursday night.
Pabitra Margherita (BJP) and Rwngra Narzary (UPPL), both candidates for the ruling BJP-led coalition government, were elected.
Moreover, Ripun Bora, the former president of the state Congress, lost the lone seat that his party was contesting.
Despite the fact that the Opposition ran a single candidate, Congress’ Bora, in the days leading up to the election, the Congress and the AIUDF accused each other of cross-voting.
While the high drama delayed the results, the Opposition was clearly on the back foot by early Thursday afternoon: while South Karimganj MLA Siddique Ahmed’s vote was cancelled for writing ‘ONE’ instead of numeric 1, Raha MLA Shashi Kanta Das extended support to the BJP.
The former was kicked out of the group. According to a press release from the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC), Siddique “intentionally” disobeyed Wajed Ali Choudhury, the party’s chief whip.
“This has been confirmed based on a finding of AICC Secretary, the co-in charge of APCC, Mr Prithviraj Prabhakar Sathe as well as the designated observer of Congress candidate Mr Ripun Bora RS election. In view of this violation, as a strict disciplinary action, Mr Siddique Ahmed has been suspended from the primary membership of the party with immediate effect” said the statement.
Pijush Hazarika, a BJP MLA, said on Thursday that the developments revealed the Opposition’s “lack of unity.”
The BJP has 63 MLAs in the 126-member Assam Assembly, while its coalition partners AGP and UPPL have 9 and 7, respectively.
The Congress has 27 MLAs, the AIUDF has 15, and the CPI (M) and the regional Raijor Dal each have one MLA.
Rajya Sabha election, BJP party tally touches 100
In the Upper House election held on Thursday, the BJP won both Assam Rajya Sabha seats. With this, the BJP became the first party since 1988 to reach 100 seats in the Rajya Sabha.
Seven members of Congress and five members of the AIUDF voted for the BJP candidates. At least 43 votes are required for each winning candidate.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently stated that Congress is unaware of how many of its MLAs are planning to join the BJP. “Also, candidates are not bound to follow the whip issued by the party in Rajya Sabha polls. By this calculation, we will manage to get both the seats,” he had said.
Pabitra Gogoi Margherita of the BJP ran for one of the seats, while Rwngwra Narzary of the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) ran for the other. Narzary is the president of the United People’s Party of Lebanon (UPPL), which has seven members in the House of Representatives.
This time, the Congress will not have any Rajya Sabha members from Assam.
Moreover, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a member of the Rajya Sabha MP from the northeastern state.
MLA ‘Wasted’ Vote in Rajya Sabha seat election
The vote count for the Congress-led opposition’s candidate has dropped in the Rajya Sabha seat election, with the Congress suspending an MLA for allegedly wasting his vote on the ballot paper by writing “One” instead of “1.”
The suspension of Congress MLA and former minister Siddique Ahmed has harmed Ripun Bora’s chances.
Congress said in a statement that Siddique Ahmed “deliberately disobeyed the three-line whip.”
For the second seat, there was a competition. The opposition candidate was Ripun Bora, while the BJP backed UPPL’s candidate Rwngwra Narzary.
Mr Bora was backed by the All India United Democratic Front. Any candidate must receive 43 votes to win this seat.
In the state assembly, the BJP and its allies have 83 votes out of a total of 126. The numbers were sufficient for Pabitra Margherita to be elected from one seat, but Rwngwra Narzary fell short of three votes.
The opposition had 44 votes, but one had been “squandered” by a Congress MLA who allegedly “wasted” his vote. Even though opposition parties claimed their votes were secure, it all came down to the wire.
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