Guwahati, March 28: Smarting from its defeat in the Rajya Sabha election, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) today instituted an inquiry into the role of two of its legislators in the fiasco and the possibility of a “larger conspiracy”.
The Congress won both seats, aided by two AGP legislators, Abdul Jabbar and Ali Akbar Mian. Known to be loyalists of former party president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the duo did not vote in the election in violation of a party whip.
Some Independent members changed their allegiance overnight — they were supposed to back Kamrup Chamber of Commerce president Mahavir Jain — and voted for the ruling party nominees, Sylvius Condpan and Anowara Taimur.
AGP spokesperson Jagadish Bhuyan told the media that a three-member committee would conduct the “internal inquiry” into Jabbar and Mian’s abstinence from voting. “The term of reference is to ascertain whether the two MLAs were influenced by anyone,” he said.
The AGP will move the Election Commission tomorrow against the Congress for “encouraging horse-trading and violating the model code of conduct”.
The AGP accused the ruling party of winning over the Independent MLAs with a promise to sanction funds for the development of their constituencies. “This promise enticed the Independents, who ditched their candidate Mahavir Jain and voted in favour of the Congress candidates,” Bhuyan said.
The AGP nominee for one of the two Rajya Sabha seats was former union minister Birendra Prasad Baishya.
The party leadership has already recommended disciplinary action against the two MLAs who left Baishya in the lurch. “They will be suspended and asked to show cause for their behaviour,” party general secretary and chief whip Hitendra Nath Goswami said. He said the party’s legal cell was weighing the option of initiating criminal proceedings against the duo.
“They defied the whip, which is tantamount to cheating. Hence, apart from disciplinary action, we are considering legal action,” Goswami said.
A defiant Jabbar said the AGP had no moral right to serve a show-cause notice on him or initiate any action after “ignoring and sidelining us”.
“After Brindaban Goswami took over as party president at the Tezpur convention, we congratulated him and expected that he would take everyone into confidence in running the party. But he persistently ignored those who were close to Mahanta,” Jabbar alleged.
Jabbar, however, said there was no malafide intention in his abstinence from voting. “I could not go because I was bed-ridden with respiratory problems and the party leadership was aware of it,” he said. Mian was not available for comment.
The allegations against Goswami could trigger a fresh round of intra-party squabbles with the Mahanta loyalists coming out in defence of Jabbar. Though Jabbar ruled out the possibility of a revolt “at this moment”, a party source said the Mahanta camp might try to pin down the leadership by raising the subject of Goswami’s “dictatorial style of functioning”.
Prabin Sharma, one of the founder members of the AGP, left the party last week after accusing Goswami of ignoring Mahanta loyalists.