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Congress to fight Assam by-polls alone


Guwahati, Sept 20: The Congress is gearing up to fight the assembly by-polls in Assam, likely to take place by the end of this year, alone without forming any alliance, state party president Bhupen Kumar Borah said on Monday.

The state Congress has decided to field its own candidates in the seats going where by-polls will be held as it wants to regain the lost ground in the constituencies that were offered to alliance partners before the assembly elections held earlier this year, he said. Five assembly seats are now lying vacant due to deaths and resignations of MLAs while another legislator who became a Union minister is yet to quit his membership in the House.

"Due to the alliance, our organisation became weak in many areas like the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). Our cadres got demotivated in those constituencies where we did not contest. We need to strengthen those seats," Borah said in an interaction with senior journalists of the state media.

In order to enthuse the ground workers and strengthen the party organisation keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 and the assembly elections in 2026, the Congress will fight the by-polls alone, he added. The Congress, which was in power for 15 years in Assam since 2001, had formed a 'Grand Alliance' with the AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), RJD, Adivasi National Party (ANP) and the Jimochayan (Deori) Peoples Party (JPP) to fight against the BJP-led NDA in the assembly election this year.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee last month decided to break the alliance with the AIUDF and the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), while the CPI(M) has said it only had a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress but was not a part of an alliance.

"It will send a strong message to our workers that we are serious about rebuilding the party. We had some discussions with regional opposition parties like the Raijor Dal (RD) and the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP). But the Raijor Dal has already announced the candidate for one seat," Borah said.

He, however, said the proposal of AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi to give a common candidate in one seat is still under consideration.

"We have sought applications from interested Congress leaders in the six constituencies by September 27. We will make a final decision only after that. If we insist on united opposition, we cannot enthuse our workers," Borah said.

In the 126-member Assam Assembly, byelections will take place in six seats -- Mariani, Thowra, Bhabanipur, Tamulpur, Gossaigaon and Majuli. Two MLAs of the Congress and one of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) have joined the BJP and resigned from the assembly. One legislator each of the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) died.

The sixth seat is likely to fall vacant when former chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal resigns as he has joined the Union Cabinet as a minister. At present, the BJP has 60 MLAs but effectively 59 as Sonowal is yet to resign from the Assembly.

The ruling alliance partners -- the AGP has nine and UPPL has five MLAs. The Congress' strength is 27, while the BPF has three and the CPI(M) has one MLA. There is one Independent MLA also.

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