Stage set for Rajya Sabha polls in Assam
The ruling BJP on Wednesday named Bhubaneswar Kalita as its Rajya Sabha candidate, six months after the former Congress leader resigned from the Upper House in protest against the party’s stand on the Centre’s move to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
The day also saw the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF)’s two-time MP Biswajit Daimary file his nomination for the third straight term for one of the three seats in Assam which will go to the polls on March 26. Daimary is being backed by the BJP-led ruling alliance in the state.
The ruling BJP-AGP-BPF alliance has the numbers (86) to easily win both the seats in the House of 126.
Both the developments were along expected lines. Kalita’s name was doing the rounds from the day he resigned on August 5, 2019, a big catch for the ruling BJP as he was, like Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Gandhi family loyalist and the chief whip of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha. He was also a former Assam PCC chief.
BJP insiders admitted that Kalita was “rewarded” for his “nationalist stand” on the Jammu and Kashmir issue and his “huge experience” as an MP.
Kalita was upset with the Congress when he was asked to issue a whip to party members against the government’ move on the Kashmir issue. He felt it was against the national mood.
Kalita was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the first time in 1984 and was re-elected in 1990, 2008 and 2014. He had resigned from the Congress and the Rajya Sabha with only a few months left in his tenure which ends on April 9, 2020.
Daimary was first elected to the Upper House in 2008 and re-elected in 2014.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary accompanied Daimary for filing the nomination papers.
After filing his nomination, Daimary told reporters, “I have been raising the issues of the people of the state as an MP and will continue to do so. My job is to present the problems of the state in Parliament.”
Assam has seven Rajya Sabha seats of which three are held by NDA members, two are with the Congress and two are lying vacant. So far, nine aspirants, including Kalita, Satyendra Prasad Deka, Subhas Dutta and Abdul Rezzak, have collected their forms.
Journalist Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, who is the common AIUDF-Congress candidate, Biswajit Daimary, Kazi Nekib Ahmed, Sapatoon Begum and Moitree Sarma had collected their forms earlier.
The last date for filing of nomination papers is March 13. Scrutiny of the papers will be done on March 16. The last date for withdrawing nomination papers is March 18.