Assam: Cong Rides Cross-Voting by BJP to Win RS Seat

Assam: Cong Rides Cross-Voting by BJP to Win RS Seat
Aided by cross-voting by opposition BJP legislators, Congress today won an extra Rajya Sabha seat in Assam.

Congress nominees Nazneen Farouque and Silvius Condpan won securing 43 and 42 votes respectively while Jayanta Baruah, a media baron who was the common opposition candidate, lost the election by polling 40 votes.

Given Congress' strength of 54 in the 126-member House at present, the party was in position to win just one while the opposition could have ensured Baruah's win had it remained united.

The state assembly has 126 members with Congress having 54 members, AGP-24, BJP-10, AUDF-10, Independents- 24, CPI (M)-2 and CPI and Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) one each.

Stung by the reverse, BJP suspended its four MLAs who defied the party whip and voted for the Congress candidate while opposition Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) took a similar action against two of its legislators Rasul Haque Bahadur and Anowarul Haque for voting in favour of the ruling party.

The four BJP legislators, after casting their votes, came out and disclosed to newsmen that they had voted for the Congress candidates because they were not consulted on the issue of opposition nominee.

BJP general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that the four MLAs, Kartiksena Sinha, Rumi Nath, Sambhu Singh Malla and Abhijit Hazarika had been suspended and the party has requested the Speaker to take immediate action against them for defying the party whip.

"We will also ask the returning officer and the Election Commission's observer not to count the four votes cast by the MLAs for the sake of democracy", Prasad said.

The disqualification would be sought under the 10th schedule of Constitution for defying the party whip.

"We are not expelling the four as we want them to be disqualified as MLAs. They are like saleable goods," Prasad said.

Prasad alleged two BJP MLAs went to cast their votes in a senior Congress minister's car and termed it as "a clear case of inducement".

He said, "Democracy stands murdered by the Tarun Gogoi government, his ministers and the Congress... Please tell what is your reply."

Launching a broadside against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who represented Assam in RS for 18 years, he said, "To win one Rajya Sabha seat, such a sacrifice of democracy? You are the Prime Minister of the country and talk about good governance. Today there is naked abuse of power with criminal intimidation and corruption."

"It is indeed shameful and the prime minister should explain. It is a clear case of inducement. BJP accepts this challenge of the Congress," he said.

Prasad denied of any crisis in the BJP due to the cross voting. "But we are pained by the action of the four MLAs. This has given us a new confidence to overcome Congress' dirty tricks."

Asked why no action was taken against the four MLAs when they had yesterday said they would vote against the Opposition's candidate, the BJP spokesman said, "We wanted to conclusively expose the Congress.

"Our legislative party had told the Speaker that there is pressure to vote against the party whip. We expressed our apprehension to the EC, Speaker and returning officer. We had to appeal to the EC to appoint a special observer for the poll and the state Election Officer was appointed as one."
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