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Tarun Gogoi for common nominee for Rajya Sabha polls

Ex-CM seeks candidate to speak up against CAA

By Rajiv Konwar in Guwahati
  • Published 27.02.20, 12:18 AM
  • Updated 27.02.20, 12:18 AM
  • 2 mins read
The gathering at the Congress rally against the citizenship law at Dongkamukam in West Karbi Anglong on Wednesday Picture by UB Photos

Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday said Opposition parties should field a common candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls who can speak up against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and “communal forces”.

“I am always for a common candidate who can speak for the interest of the people of Assam, and who can speak against CAA and communal forces,” Gogoi said here.

The former chief minister’s statement came a day after BJP leader and senior cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the party would contest in one of the three Rajya Sabha seats and leave one to its alliance partner Bodoland People’s Front (BPF). He said the BJP would not have much scope of winning the third seat if the Opposition parties join hands.

Three Rajya Sabha seats, represented by the Congress’s Bhubaneswar Kalita and Sanjay Singh and BPF’s Biswajit Daimary, will fall vacant on April 9, after their term ends. The Election Commission, in a notification on Tuesday, said polling for the three seats will be held on March 26.

Gogoi said if required the Congress should join hands with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and Left parties against the BJP-led government, which was “working against the interests of the people of the state”.

Gogoi reiterated his changed stand on AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal. “Today I cannot say ‘who is Badruddin’. I had said that when he was not even a panchayat member. Now he has become an MP.”

AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said there has not been any official talk among the Opposition parties on offering a consensus candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls. “If the Congress and the AIUDF field separate candidates, nobody will win. We had extended our support for many Congress candidates in the past, including Manmohan Singh, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Ranee Narah and Pankaj Bora, but we didn’t get any in return.”

In the 126 Assembly seats, BJP and its alliance partners have 86 members — BJP (60), AGP (14) and BPF (12). They also have support of the lone Independent member. Two seats are vacant. The Congress and the AIUDF have 23 and 14 MLAs respectively.

Anti-CAA rally

Assam PCC president Ripun Bora on Tuesday said the Congress would repeal CAA if it is voted to power in 2021 Assembly polls. Addressing a rally at Dongkamukam in West Karbi Anglong, organised as part of the Congress’s Janajagaran Yatra against the citizenship law, Bora said, “Indigenous people have been opposing CAA as it will have negative impact on them.”

A West Karbi Anglong Congress leader said: “Along with Karbi Anglong, several areas inhabited by indigenous people have now been occupied by illegal immigrants. The government, instead of taking action to free those lands, is working to give illegal settlers citizenship and along with it land rights. This is not acceptable to us because many of our tribal people are landless. We cannot surrender our land to illegal immigrants.”

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) staged a protest against CAA in front of the Jorhat deputy commissioner’s office for two hours.

Additional reporting by Suroj Barman in Halfong and Devajit Baruah in Jorhat