KMSS activists burn effigies of MLAs at Jagiroad in Morigaon on Monday in protest against their alleged malpractice in the Rajya Sabha elections. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Feb. 10: Suspended AIUDF legislator Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuyia today stirred a hornet’s nest by alleging that money had changed hands between senior Congress leaders and AIUDF boss Badruddin Ajmal in Mizoram prior to the Rajya Sabha polls in Assam on Friday. The money, he alleged, had been handed over by Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla.
The Congress-BPF ruling alliance had won all three Rajya Sabha seats in Assam on Friday despite not having the numbers.
Mazarbhuyia did not turn up on time to vote while the votes of five other Opposition MLAs in the 126-member House were cancelled.
The vote of the lone Trinamul MLA Dwipen Pathak, who was supporting the ruling alliance candidate, was also invalid.
Cancellation of six votes led to charges of horse-trading against the ruling Congress.
“When Ajmal visited Aizawl prior to Rajya Sabha polls, Lal Thanhawla handed over the money to him. The amount is said to be around Rs 17 crore. The deal was done when top Congress leaders instructed Lal Thanhawla to do so,” Mazarbhuyia, an MLA from Katigora, told reporters at his residence in Silchar this morning.
Mazarbhuyia denied reports that he had dragged Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi into the controversy. “I only said Lal Thanhawla, who is very close to Rahul Gandhi, gave the money to Ajmal just before Rajya Sabha polls at Aizawl circuit house,” he said.
Reacting to the allegation, Lal Thanhawla told The Telegraph, “It’s a stark, naked lie. I have never met this man (Ajmal). Someone told me (before the Rajya Sabha poll) that this man was coming to Aizawl and he would like to meet me. I said I had nothing to do with him. Later, I was told that he wanted to meet Opposition leaders here and I said that’s his business and none of mine. I don’t have Rs 17 crore to give to anybody. I don’t even have a crore except in real estate.”
In an AIUDF release, Ajmal said he had visited Aizawl before the polls but for completely different reasons. “I neither met Lal Thanhawla nor had any discussions. I simply submitted a memorandum to him through the Speaker of Mizoram Assembly, highlighting various problems faced by the people of Barak Valley when they visit Aizawl. Mazarbhuyia is lying. He is levelling the allegation to save his face,” Ajmal said.
The Assam PCC convened a news meet here and dared Mazarbhuyia to prove his allegation within 24 hours.
Bhupen Kumar Borah, an AICC secretary and MLA from Assam, who was in charge of Mizoram during the Assembly polls, told The Telegraph, “The AICC fielded two candidates (Bhubaneswar Kalita and Sanjay Singh) as it had the strength to win both seats. The state leadership decided to back the alliance partner (BPF) candidate, Biswajit Daimary, as it was also sure of his win. Therefore, to drag in the party leadership is unwarranted. Moreover, our candidates won on their own vote, not on the votes of the Opposition. It’s difficult to believe a man (Mazarbhuyia) who has allegedly betrayed his own party (AIUDF)”.
AIUDF MLAs Gopi Nath Das and Aminul Islam, accused of getting their votes cancelled to facilitate the victory of the ruling alliance candidate, said they would approach the Gauhati High Court to instruct the Election Commission to let them know if their votes were cancelled.
BJP MLA Prasanta Phukan, facing similar charges, today said it would take a few more days to prepare and submit his writ petition in the high court on the issue. The state BJP has constituted a three-member inquiry committee to probe the issue.
The ballot box is now in custody of the Kamrup treasury office here.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, speaking at a mass gathering at Darbar field in Sivasagar, 350km from Guwahati, vented his ire at the MLAs for allegedly getting their votes cancelled. “We have sent our elected representatives to serve the people and see what they are doing. They have started engaging in dirty politics like horse-trading and corruption.”
Additional reporting by Zodin Sanga & Touhid Raja Choudhury