According to sources in the opposition party, Congress is expected to hand over at least one assembly seat out of six where by-elections will be held in the coming months to the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP).
Earlier in the day, sources said, a high-level meeting between Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) leader Bhupen Borah and AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi and General Secretary Jagadish Bhuyan took place.
‘The Congress is willing to leave one seat to the AJP as per their request to put up common candidates in the by-polls in Assam. Though not final, we are ready to leave the Majuli seat to them,” a senior APCC leader told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Vacant Assembly seats
Due to the deaths and resignations of MLAs, six assembly seats are presently empty. On October 30, by-elections will be held in five of those seats: Thowra, Mariani, Bhabanipur, Tamulpur, and Gossaigaon. Although the Majuli seat is also vacant, no election will be held on that day because its MP, Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal, resigned from the legislature hours after the Election Commission issued the poll timetable.
The Congress won the Thowra and Mariani seats in the earlier this year assembly elections, but the MLAs quit and joined the ruling BJP.
”The APCC is ready to vacate Mariani if Lurinjyoti Gogoi himself contests from there. If he is not willing, we will give Majuli to them. Both the parties have mutually agreed on this,” the Congress leader said.
Denial of the Congress president
When contacted, the state Congress president did not rule out a seat-sharing deal with the AJP but claimed no decision had been made on the overall alliance for the by-elections.
”We have three committees, which take the final decision. All the three committees will sit separately tomorrow and finalize our strategies,” Borah told PTI.
When asked if a deal with MLA Akhil Gogoi’s Raijor Dal (RD) is possible, Borah said the Congress is willing to discuss as long as the party withdraws its candidate from the Thowra seat.
The RD declared on Wednesday that it will run for two seats, Thowra and Mariani, and chose a candidate for Thowra. Mariani’s choice will be chosen this week, according to Gogoi.
”We cannot talk about poll understanding when the RD has already announced its candidate. It cannot dictate terms to us,” Borah said.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Akhil Gogoi urged Congress to support the RD’s candidates in the by-polls, saying that the RD has tried to field common candidates to defeat the ruling NDA.
”If they (Congress) support us, we will campaign for them in the remaining four seats,” he had said.
Meanwhile, the CPI, which was a member of the Grand Alliance led by the Congress during the assembly elections, has stated that Krishna Gogoi will run for Thowra.
The Congress had established the ‘Grand Alliance’ with the AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M), CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), RJD, Adivasi National Party (ANP), and Jimochayan (Deori) Peoples Party (JPP) to fight the BJP-led NDA in the Assam assembly election this year.
The BJP currently has 59 seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly. The AGP has nine MLAs among its partners, while the UPPL has five. The Congress has 27 members, while the AIUDF has 15, the BPF has three, and the CPI(M) has one. There is only one Independent MLA in the House of Commons.
Assam Assembly election 2021
The Assam assembly elections ended with the BJP retaining power. The BJP came out on top with 60 seats, compared to Congress’s 29. With 16 and 9 seats, respectively, parties like the AIUDF and AGP did well.