AIUDF votes for Ranee, Congress calls it BJP’s ploy to mislead people
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, March 21: Both candidates of the ruling Congress - former State minister Ripun Bora and former Union minister Ranee rah - on Monday won elections for the two Rajya Sabha seats from the State. The AIUDF legislators voted in favour of the Congress candidates, triggering speculations of a "secret understanding" between the two parties as alleged by the BJP.
A total of 86 votes were polled, of which Ripun Bora received 38 and Ranee rah got 47. One vote - that of Congress MLA Robin Bordoloi, who has been denied party ticket for the ensuing assembly elections - was cancelled. The present strength of the assembly is 114.
Independent candidate, businessman Mahavir Jain did not get a single vote.
Though the Congress has 68 legislators at present, 66 of them cast their vote.
Congress legislator from Digboi Rameswar Dhanowar could not make it due to ill health. The ruling party's Duliajan legislator Amiya Gogoi, who has been denied ticket this time, also did not turn up.
Asom Ga Parishad legislators abstained from voting.
The Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF), whose ten legislators had backed Mahavir Jain's nomition, did a U-turn this morning and abstained from voting, alleging that Jain was hobnobbing with the Congress. However, suspended BPF MLA Hitesh Basumatary, who will contest on UPP ticket in the ensuing assembly elections, participated in the election. He also voted in favour of Congress.
BJP legislator Manoranjan Das, also denied ticket for the assembly elections by his party, turned up and voted for the Congress nominee. Independent MLA Javed Islam also cast his vote.
But what created a flutter was the AIUDF whose 17 MLAs turned up and voted for Congress candidate Ranee rah. The legislators included five who have been denied tickets for the assembly elections and two others who have joined the Congress. AIUDF's legislature party leader Hafiz Baseer Ahmed Qasimi did not turn up.
"We voted for the Congress candidate as we want to prevent the BJP from passing some of the anti-minority bills moved by the party in the Rajya Sabha. But we do not have any understanding with the Congress," said AIUDF legislator Abdur Rahim Khan, adding, "It is our fundamental right to vote. The party has not issued any whip".
Khan also said that Jain was a candidate of the BPF, which is an ally of the BJP and so the AIUDF wanted to defeat him. "Our anti-Congress and anti-BJP stands remain," he added.
The Congress, however, said the AIUDF's voting in favour of its candidate was "part of the BJP's ploy to mislead the people."
"We did not seek their support. We just came to know from the media that they voted for us. One of our former colleagues is behind this," State Congress president Anjan Dutta said.
Elated at the victory of the two Congress candidates, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, "It clearly indicates which way the wind is blowing."
"The BPF betrayed Mahavir Jain. It is a bad thing to do," Gogoi said.
Critical of the AIUDF's move to vote for the Congress, the Chief Minister said, "The AIUDF had tried to persuade us to put up weak candidates in five or six seats - from where Ajmal and his sons are contesting. But we did not listen to him."