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House seat change for ex-ministers

Guwahati, Aug. 2: Jalukbari legislator Himanta Biswa Sarma, once seen sitting near chief minister Tarun Gogoi and taking the lead in defending the government on every issue in most of the Assembly sessions during the last 13 years, will be in a different location and probably a new role inside the House from Monday.

The Assembly will have new seating arrangements for former ministers Sarma, Chandan Brahma, Ardhendu Dey and Siddique Ahmed during the budget session that begins on Monday.

Gauranga Prasad Das, principal secretary of the Assembly, told The Telegraph that since Sarma, Brahma, Dey and Ahmed were no longer ministers, they would have to take their seats along with other legislators inside the House in the ensuing Assembly session.

“The final decision on new seating arrangements will be taken tomorrow with approval from the Speaker. The first row of legislators, generally reserved for former ministers, is now fully occupied. Now we might have to keep four seats in the second row of legislators reserved for former ministers,” Das said.

At present, former ministers Bhumidhar Barman, Sarat Barkatoki, Anjan Dutta, G.C. Langthasa, Pramila Rani Brahma and Abdul Muhib Mazumdar occupy the first row inside the Assembly.

While Sarma resigned as health, education and Assam Accord minister on July 21, saying that he could not work under Tarun Gogoi, Brahma resigned as transport and tourism minister in June after the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) broke its eight-year alliance with the Congress.

Dey and Ahmed were dropped from the Gogoi ministry last month for their revolt against the chief minister.

Suspended AIUDF legislators Sherman Ali Ahmed and Atowar Rahman Mazarbhuyia today filed an application before the Speaker, Pranab Gogoi, requesting separate seating arrangements inside the House during the budget session.

“Mazarbhuyia and I have been suspended because of our differences of opinion with the party. So, it might be difficult for us to continue to sit along with other AIUDF legislators inside the House and share or raise the same issues with them,” Ahmed said.

During the monthlong session, the chief minister will present the state budget for 2014-15 financial year. The government is also expected to table some important financial and other bills in the House.

“It will be interesting to watch Sarma, who was the most articulate minister in the Gogoi cabinet, inside the Assembly this time,” an Opposition MLA said.

The Congress has decided to issue a three-line whip to all its legislators in a bid to maintain party discipline during the session.

The decision to issue the whip was taken following a public announcement by the dissident MLAs, led by Sarma, that they would play the role of a “constructive Opposition” in the House and oppose all “anti-people policies” of the government.