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AIUDF may put up joint candidate with Cong or support its nominee

By PRANJAL BHUYAN
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GUWAHATI, May 9 - There is likelihood of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) either seeking to put up a joint candidate with the Congress or of unilaterally deciding to support a nominee fielded by the grand old party for one of the two upcoming Rajya Sabha vacancies from Assam, polls for which are expected to be announced soon.

Sources in the Badruddin Ajmal-led party told this newspaper that a lot will depend on the outcome of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as well as the post-May 23 government formation process in New Delhi.

�So far there has been no formal discussion within our party regarding the upcoming elections for two of the Rajya Sabha seats from Assam. The picture will become clear after May 23 when the results of the Lok Sabha polls are declared. The kind of equation which arises after May 23, with regard to both the Lok Sabha election results as well as formation of the next Central government, will have a clear imprint on the Rajya Sabha matter. What our party�s stand will be with regard to the Rajya Sabha seats will also be influenced, to a great extent, by the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls,� a senior AIUDF leader told The Assam Tribune.

He added, �In 2016, we had supported Congress nominee Ranee Narah in the Rajya Sabha elections. Such precedents exist. There have been occasions in the past when we have unilaterally supported Congress candidates, though we have so far never fielded joint candidates in alliance with the Congress.�

The terms of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur, both Rajya Sabha members of the Congress party from Assam, will end on June 14.

In the 126-member Assam Legislative Assembly, the BJP has 61 MLAs, while its allies AGP and BPF have 14 and 12 legislators, respectively. The ruling coalition also has the support of the lone Independent MLA in the Assembly.

On the other hand, among the Opposition benches, the Congress has 25 MLAs and the AIUDF has 13 legislators.

�Together, the Congress and the AIUDF can play a decisive role in one of the two Rajya Sabha seats for which polls will be held. That will be our calculation, based on the existing arithmetic in the Assembly,� said the AIUDF leader.

He added that chances of the opposition managing to win one of the Rajya Sabha seats will be bright if some �disgruntled� AGP legislators decide to vote against the NDA�s official nominees, or even if they abstain from voting.

�We can never take any step that may help the BJP. We have a compulsion to ensure that the �democratic and secular votes� do not get divided. That is why we refrained from putting up candidates in 11 constituencies of the State during the Lok Sabha polls. Let me also make it clear that the anti-BJP and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill stand of the AIUDF will remain even in the Rajya Sabha elections. So, chances are very high that we may either support the Congress or seek to field a joint candidate for one of the seats. However, the picture will become clear only after May 23,� said the AIUDF leader.

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AIUDF may put up joint candidate with Cong or support its nominee

GUWAHATI, May 9 - There is likelihood of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) either seeking to put up a joint candidate with the Congress or of unilaterally deciding to support a nominee fielded by the grand old party for one of the two upcoming Rajya Sabha vacancies from Assam, polls for which are expected to be announced soon.

Sources in the Badruddin Ajmal-led party told this newspaper that a lot will depend on the outcome of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as well as the post-May 23 government formation process in New Delhi.

�So far there has been no formal discussion within our party regarding the upcoming elections for two of the Rajya Sabha seats from Assam. The picture will become clear after May 23 when the results of the Lok Sabha polls are declared. The kind of equation which arises after May 23, with regard to both the Lok Sabha election results as well as formation of the next Central government, will have a clear imprint on the Rajya Sabha matter. What our party�s stand will be with regard to the Rajya Sabha seats will also be influenced, to a great extent, by the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls,� a senior AIUDF leader told The Assam Tribune.

He added, �In 2016, we had supported Congress nominee Ranee Narah in the Rajya Sabha elections. Such precedents exist. There have been occasions in the past when we have unilaterally supported Congress candidates, though we have so far never fielded joint candidates in alliance with the Congress.�

The terms of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur, both Rajya Sabha members of the Congress party from Assam, will end on June 14.

In the 126-member Assam Legislative Assembly, the BJP has 61 MLAs, while its allies AGP and BPF have 14 and 12 legislators, respectively. The ruling coalition also has the support of the lone Independent MLA in the Assembly.

On the other hand, among the Opposition benches, the Congress has 25 MLAs and the AIUDF has 13 legislators.

�Together, the Congress and the AIUDF can play a decisive role in one of the two Rajya Sabha seats for which polls will be held. That will be our calculation, based on the existing arithmetic in the Assembly,� said the AIUDF leader.

He added that chances of the opposition managing to win one of the Rajya Sabha seats will be bright if some �disgruntled� AGP legislators decide to vote against the NDA�s official nominees, or even if they abstain from voting.

�We can never take any step that may help the BJP. We have a compulsion to ensure that the �democratic and secular votes� do not get divided. That is why we refrained from putting up candidates in 11 constituencies of the State during the Lok Sabha polls. Let me also make it clear that the anti-BJP and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill stand of the AIUDF will remain even in the Rajya Sabha elections. So, chances are very high that we may either support the Congress or seek to field a joint candidate for one of the seats. However, the picture will become clear only after May 23,� said the AIUDF leader.