Congress nomites Ripun, Rani


Mavir Jain too throws hat in the ring, AIUDF says it will abstain from voting

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, March 11: The ruling Congress today nomited Ripun Bora and Rani rah as its candidates for the two Rajya Sabha seats in Assam which will fall vacant next month.

They filed their nomitions today in presence of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and other senior party leaders.

Gogoi said the two senior leaders were given nomitions as party vice president Rahul Gandhi wanted "people who are active and vocal."

Given the chasm in the Opposition camp, the elections to the two seats slated for March 21 had appeared to be a cake walk for the ruling party initially. But in a sudden turn of events, businessman Mahavir Jain, backed by ten BPF MLAs, threw his hat in the ring at the eleventh hour.

He submitted his papers minutes before the Assembly secretariat was to close the nomition process. If Jain does not withdraw, elections will be held on March 21.

While the last date of filing nomitions for the polls is today, scrutiny will be held tomorrow, withdrawal on March 14 and polling will be held on March 21 next.

"It was a sudden decision. I hope to get the support from all parties," Jain who heads the Kamrup Chambers of Commerce, told jourlists.

Asked if he had discussions with the BJP, AGP and AIUDF, Jain said, "Not yet. As I told you it was a sudden decision. I will do it now."

While Ripun Bora was the former State Education minister, rah was a Union minister in the previous UPA government. Bora will be the Congress' first preference candidate and rah will be the second preference candidate.

According to the affidavits filed by candidates, Rani rah has shown total assets of Rs 26.50 crore (total movable and immovable assets of self, spouse and dependents), Ripu Bora has Rs 6.78 crore while Mahavir Jain has Rs 35.39 crore. Jain has also showed some liabilities.

The Congress currently has 68 legislators in the 126-member house with ten of its former members, who joined the BJP last year, disqualified from the Assembly.

With AIUDF's Sherman Ali and Ataur Rehman Majhar Bhuyan joining the Congress recently, the strength of the party has rose to 70. Two independents - Jatin Mali and Javed Islam - are also likely to vote in favor of the Congress candidates.

However, an united Opposition has a total strength of 41 MLAs, two more that the required number of votes to win which is 39.

But the AIUDF which has 16 MLAs has declared it would abstain from voting. "We would have voted had the Congress nomited Abdul Muhim Mazumdar. Now that Mazumdar Saheeb is not in fray, we will abstain from voting as we don't have the requisite numbers to nomite anyone," AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal said.

If AIUDF abstains, the Congress will sail through easily.

The past Rajya Sabha elections in the State had witnessed high drama amidst charges of horse-trading and cross-voting.

Elections to the Rajya Sabha were necessitated following the scheduled retirement of two Congress members znin Faruque and Pankaj Bora on April 2 next.

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