GUWAHATI, March 11 - A total of three candidates, including two from the Congress and an Independent, have filed their nomination papers for the forthcoming polls to two Rajya Sabha seats from the State.
Senior Congress leader and former State Minister Ripun Bora and former Union Minister Ranee Narah filed their nominations today as candidates from the ruling party, while noted businessman Mahavir Prasad Jain sprang a last-minute surprise by also filing his nomination papers with support of the Bodoland People�s Front (BPF).
Jain�s candidature has been proposed by 10 BPF MLAs.
Jain said he is expecting support from all political parties. However, there have been no official words from the BJP and the AGP with regard to the Rajya Sabha polls till the time of filing of this report.
AGP MLA Utpal Dutta was, however, observed with Jain at the Assam Legislative Assembly complex this afternoon, when the businessman came to file his nomination, but Dutta was not present in the chamber of the Assembly Principal Secretary when Jain handed over the nomination papers.
Efforts to contact State BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal and AGP president Atul Bora to ask about their respective parties� strategy with regard to the Rajya Sabha polls failed.
Meanwhile, a senior AIUDF leader said that the Badruddin Ajmal-led party will boycott the Rajya Sabha polls. AIUDF had earlier called upon the Congress to nominate former Minister and sitting MLA Abdul Muhib Mazumdar for one of the two vacancies.
Today was the last day for filing of nomination papers for the two Rajya Sabha vacancies from Assam. Scrutiny of nominations will be done tomorrow, while March 14 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidature.
The election will take place on March 21.
The polls for the two seats are being held as the terms of two serving Upper House MPs from the State � Pankaj Bora and Naznin Faruque � who are both from Congress, will end on April 2.
Earlier in the morning, the Congress declared the candidature of Bora and Narah. Two sets of nomination papers were filed by both.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and APCC president Anjan Dutta along with a host of Congress MLAs, Ministers and other leaders were present during the filing of nomination.
Speaking to reporters, Bora said, �I am thankful to the Congress party leadership for their faith in me. I am confident of my victory. My focus will be of raising issues related to the State�s flood and erosion problems, Special Category State status and deprivation by the Centre and also on the issue of illegal immigration and sealing of the international border.�
Narah, on her part, said that she will use the experience gained during her long years in the Lok Sabha and as a Union Minister to raise issues affecting the State in the Rajya Sabha as well.
She said that the problem of flood and erosion, dams and border will be among her priority.
Jain, on his part, also expressed confidence of securing support from across the political spectrum. �I have good relations with everybody and I expect votes from MLAs belonging to all the parties. My aim will be to work towards continuation of peace in the State and also to raise issues affecting Assam in New Delhi, including ensuring flow of Central funds,� he said.
Jain added that so far he has not held any formal talks with any political parties.
APCC chief Dutta exuded confidence about the victory of both the party candidates. �You will see on March 21 that 82 MLAs will support us,� Dutta said, but refused to divulge anything more.
Congress currently has 68 MLAs in the Legislative Assembly. After disqualification and resignation of a number of MLAs, the effective strength of the Assembly is now down to 114.
Two MLAs, suspended earlier by AIUDF, also recently joined the Congress. There are seven MLAs of AGP, six of BJP, 12 of BPF, 16 of AIUDF, one of Trinamool Congress and two Independents.
A candidate will need 39 first preference votes to win the Rajya Sabha poll.