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Horse-trading issue of MLAs rocks Assam Assembly

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The Opposition staged a walkout in the Assam Assembly on Monday over alleged horse trading of MLAs by the ruling BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls.

As soon as the House assembled in the morning, the Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia of the Congress said the Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and the ruling BJP were indulging in “undemocratic practices” by allegedly trying to “buy” MLAs to win both the Rajya Sabha seats from Assam for which elections will be held on March 31.

Speaker Biswajit Daimary tried to pacify the Opposition and requested them to allow continuance of the Question Hour, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

The chief minister on Sunday had claimed that suspended Congress MLA Sashi Kanta Das will vote for BJP-led NDA candidates during the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in the state after a meeting with him.

“This is being done to weaken the Opposition and democracy”, Saikia said, adding the chief minister allegedly said all Congress and opposition MLAs are ready to join the BJP”.

The treasury bench strongly opposed this, resulting in a noisy situation inside the House. The opposition started shouting slogans and waved placards with slogans.

The opposition, comprising the Congress, AIUDF, CPI(M) and the Raijor Dal, moved to the well of the House and shouted slogans like “Save Democracy”, “Won’t Allow Death of Democracy”, “Inquilab Zindabad”, “Follow Constitution” and “Jai Aai Asom” among others.

These were countered by BJP MLAs with shouts of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Jai Shree Ram”.

“You (opposition) please sit down and discuss the issue. Only then, we can solve it. There’s no problem in discussing the issue in the House. The Rajya Sabha polls will be held as per rule,” Daimary said.

After continuously shouting slogans inside the well of the House for 35 minutes, during which the Question Hour continued, members of the four opposition parties staged a walkout from the Assembly.

The BJP has nominated Pabitra Margherita as its candidate for one seat, while United People’s Party Liberal’s (UPPL) working president Rwngwra Narzary was named for the second seat.

The two seats, for which elections are due, are currently held by Ripun Bora and Ranee Narah of the Congress. Bora is in the fray this time as the Opposition parties’ joint candidate.

The ruling coalition stands comfortably poised to get one of its candidates easily elected, though it may fall short by a couple of votes if the Opposition votes as a bloc for its lone nominee so far.

Out of seven Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, the BJP currently holds three and Congress two. BJP ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has one member in the Upper House, while the remaining one is held by an Independent.

The BJP’s strength in the 126-member Assam Assembly is 63, while its allies AGP has nine and UPPL has seven MLAs.

In the opposition camp, the Congress’ strength is 27, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has 15 members, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has three and CPI(M) has one MLAs. There is also one Independent MLA.

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