Guwahati: In what may be called another setback for the regional Asom Gana Parishad, the BJP central leadership has informed Assam BJP about the possibility of fielding union minister Ram Vilas Paswan from one of the two Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in June in Assam.
According to authoritative sources in the BJP, BJP president Amit Shah has already alerted the state leadership about the commitment of the party to Mr Paswan.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur, both from the Congress, are retiring next month and it was believed that the BJP will keep one seat for itself and give away the second seat to the AGP.
The AGP was promised three ministerial berths and a Rajya Sabha seat when the regional party joined the BJP-led NDA alliance in Assam the second time. The AGP is believed to have shortlisted its former Rajya Sabha MP Biren Baishya for re-nomination to Rajya Sabha.
However, sources now say that there has been a change in the scenario as the BJP has already promised Mr Paswan to nominate him from Assam, while it is keeping the second seat for itself with its senior leaders, including union minister and MPs Rajen Gohain, Bijoya Chakravarty and Ramen Deka, among others, who were denied Lok Sabha tickets are to be accommodated. Indicating that the AGP may have to wait for the 2020 when three more seats would fall vacant when Sanjay Singh, Biswajeet Daimary and Bhubaneswar Kalita are going to retire, sources however said that decision of the BJP has not gone down well among the leaders of regional party which is facing revolt like situation at grassroots level for their decision to re-join the BJP led alliance.
The Opposition Congress, which doesn’t have requisite strength to get Rajya Sabha seat, has given a new twist by asking all the political parties opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) to join hand to put up a consensus candidate to take away second seat from BJP.
The leader of the opposition and Congress leader Mr Debabrta Saikia told this newspaper that such a plan is workable because all these parties are opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which the NDA has promised to reintroduce if it comes to power.
“The Congress has 25 MLAs, AGP 14, AIUDF 13 and BPF 12, which works out to 64 and it is enough to grab the second seat,” Mr Saikia said.
Meanwhile, senior AGP leaders also met here on Monday and discussed the political strategy form the upcoming elections for two Rajya Sabha seats.
If the present strength of legislators of the BJP-led coalition in the state has to be taken into account, the ruling coalition has the number to wrest both the seats from the Congress. A party needs 43 votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat and 86 votes for two seats. The ruling coalition has 88 seats - 61 of the BJP, 14 of the AGP and 12 of the BPF, besides independent MLA Bhuban Pegu. On the other hand, Congress has 25 and the AIUDF has 13 legislators.
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