The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong in double poll jeopardy
- Selection of RS nominees questioned

Guwahati/New Delhi, March 23: As the countdown to the Rajya Sabha election began, a section of the Assam Congress today questioned the wisdom of fielding Anowara Taimur after zeroing in on Silvius Condpan, both from the same parliamentary constituency.

The group accused chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s camp of propping up Taimur as the second candidate after PCC chief Pawan Singh Ghatowar got the high command’s nod to field Condpan. It said this was tantamount to violating an unwritten law applicable to the selection of a Rajya Sabha candidate.

The Congress members argued that candidates for the Rajya Sabha should represent the spectrum of society, but the party nominated two persons from the same parliamentary constituency, making for unequal representation.

Condpan admitted that it was expected of parties to choose candidates for Rajya Sabha seats from different sections of society, but said he and Taimur were from different backgrounds.

The former Speaker represented the Majbat Assembly segment, which is under Mangaldoi parliamentary constituency, for five consecutive terms from 1978. He lost the seat in the 2001 elections. Taimur contested the Dolgaon seat, which is under the same parliamentary constituency, in every election since 1972. She failed to retain the seat three times during this period.

Apart from opposition to the selection of two Rajya Sabha candidates from the same parliamentary constituency, the ruling Congress has had to contend with objections from some party leaders to the renomination of two sitting Lok Sabha members. These leaders await an appointment with party president Sonia Gandhi to make a case for nominating “winnable candidates”.

“Our appointment with the (party) president yesterday was cancelled on account of her busy schedule. The next course of action will be decided only after the meeting, which is likely very soon,” legislator Pradan Barua said in New Delhi.

Barua is camping in the capital along with about 50 supporters, including three other legislators. They are opposed to the candidature of sitting MP Ranee Narah from Lakhimpur and have threatened to prop up an Independent candidate for the seat.

Barua declined to say if his group would be present in Guwahati for the Rajya Sabha election on March 26. For a candidate from Assam to go through to the Rajya Sabha, 42 first-preference votes are required. Even if the group camping in New Delhi abstains from voting, one of the two Congress candidates will win. The second candidate could be left in the lurch.

Another group of Congress members is opposed to the renomination of the Lok Sabha member from Dhubri, Abdul Hamid. Minister Wajid Ali Choudhury, who leads the group, said he was sure Anwar Hussain would replace Hamid. “There were some complaints against Anwar Hussain and we briefed senior leaders about the misconceptions,” he said.

Another member of the 15-member group, including 5 MLAs, had said yesterday that they were contemplating an indefinite hungerstrike.

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