Himanta's claim leaves Congress red-faced
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 19: Dropping a bombshell, Congress legislator and former minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today claimed he, along with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and cabinet ministers Rakibul Hussain and former minister Chandan Brahma, had "spoken" to seven MLAs of "other parties" to "mage" them during the 2014 Rajya Sabha elections.
Refusing to use the word "horse-trading", Sarma insisted that it was "they" who were instrumental in the "canceling" of votes of six MLAs and "absence" of one legislator.
Sarma, however, denied that there were any monetary dealings. "We spoke to the MLAs. They acted accordingly in lieu of some political commitment," Sarma told a press conference, more than a year after the controversial elections.
In that election in February last year, three candidates of the Congress-BPF alliance - Sanjay Singh, Bhubaneswar Kalita and Biswajit Daimary - had emerged victorious.
While the two Congress candidates had polled 32 first preference votes each, the BPF nominee got 29 first preference votes. The consensus Opposition candidate, veteran jourlist Haidar Hussain, maged to get 26 first preference votes.
"The Chief Minister spoke to one Opposition MLA. I and Rakibul Hussain jointly spoke to two MLAs, while Chandan Brahma spoke to one MLA. I spoke to three others as well. There were other Opposition MLAs willing to come on board," Sarma claimed.
As many as six votes were declared invalid during counting, while one MLA - AIUDF's Ataur Rehman Majhar Bhuyan - was absent.
Two days back, Majhar Bhuyan, who was placed under suspension for remaining absent during the polling, had claimed that his party president Badruddin Ajmal had asked him to remain absent during the polling. He had also claimed that Ajmal was given a "huge sum of money" by the Congress high command through a politician in Mizoram to mage the Rajya Sabha elections.
But, Himanta Biswa Sarma today rubbished Majhar Bhuyan's claims, saying that Ajmal's me was unnecessarily dragged to the controversy.
"It was I who spoke to Majhar Bhuyan when he was on his Haj pilgrimage. I asked him whether Allah or Haidar Hussain was important. He returned only after concluding his Haj and so now he is being rewarded. He may yet land a Congress ticket," Sarma quipped.
Sarma said he had met Badruddin Ajmal in Mumbai seeking his support, but the AIUDF chief had refused to compromise his "faith (emaan)".
When asked, APCC vice president Ripun Bora said Sarma's views were entirely "persol" and the party does not subscribe to it.