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Congress to seek support of �anti-BJP� parties in by-polls

By PRANJAL BHUYAN

GUWAHATI, Aug 19 - Principal opposition Congress will field its own nominees from all the four Assembly constituencies of Assam from where by-polls are due and there is a possibility that it may call upon all the other �anti-BJP� forces to support its candidates in the elections.

�One thing is certain. We are not going for any seat-sharing arrangement with any other party in the by-polls to the four Assembly seats. However, we also want to ensure that there is no division in the opposition votes. So, we may appeal to other like-minded forces to support us in the by-elections. We may issue an appeal to all the other �anti-BJP� parties to refrain from contesting in the four constituencies,� a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) office-bearer told this newspaper.

By-polls are to be held for Sonari, Rangapara, Ratabari and Jania constituencies. These seats fell vacant after the legislators representing them got elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent parliamentary polls and resigned from the Assembly.

Kripanath Mallah (Ratabari constituency), Pallab Lochan Das (Rangapara) and Topon Kumar Gogoi (Sonari), all three from the BJP, besides Abdul Khaleque of Congress (Jania constituency), vacated their Assembly seats after getting elected to the Lok Sabha.

�In all the four constituencies in which by-polls are slated to take place, the major contenders are the Congress and the BJP. As such we are keen to ensure that the opposition votes remain intact. In case other opposition parties field their own candidates, that will only benefit the BJP,� said the leader.

He added that Congress is confident of retaining the Jania seat.

�The demography of Jania constituency is such that BJP or any of its local allies cannot dream of winning from there. At the same time, we are confident of giving a strong fight in the other three seats as well. So, if there is unity among the opposition parties, the consolidation of the anti-BJP votes could provide a big advantage to us in the electoral battle,� said the leader.

He admitted that split in the anti-BJP votes during the recent Lok Sabha elections proved to be a boon for the ruling NDA.

The Congress party has asked interested candidates in all the four constituencies to start preparation for the by-polls.

�We have not yet started the process of seeking formal applications from prospective candidates. That will be done once the Election Commission of India (ECI) announces the date for the by-polls, which have to be held by November. However, we have told our leaders and workers to start preparations so that the candidates, once officially selected by the party, do not face any difficulties at the eleventh hour. The candidates will find better acceptability among the electorate if they are visible from now,� said the leader.

It is noteworthy that the APCC had earlier formed a committee, comprising senior leaders, to chalk out the party�s strategy and programmes for the by-polls to the four Assembly seats. The committee has already visited all four constituencies and held a detailed discussion with the local level leaders and workers of the party.

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Congress to seek support of �anti-BJP� parties in by-polls

GUWAHATI, Aug 19 - Principal opposition Congress will field its own nominees from all the four Assembly constituencies of Assam from where by-polls are due and there is a possibility that it may call upon all the other �anti-BJP� forces to support its candidates in the elections.

�One thing is certain. We are not going for any seat-sharing arrangement with any other party in the by-polls to the four Assembly seats. However, we also want to ensure that there is no division in the opposition votes. So, we may appeal to other like-minded forces to support us in the by-elections. We may issue an appeal to all the other �anti-BJP� parties to refrain from contesting in the four constituencies,� a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) office-bearer told this newspaper.

By-polls are to be held for Sonari, Rangapara, Ratabari and Jania constituencies. These seats fell vacant after the legislators representing them got elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent parliamentary polls and resigned from the Assembly.

Kripanath Mallah (Ratabari constituency), Pallab Lochan Das (Rangapara) and Topon Kumar Gogoi (Sonari), all three from the BJP, besides Abdul Khaleque of Congress (Jania constituency), vacated their Assembly seats after getting elected to the Lok Sabha.

�In all the four constituencies in which by-polls are slated to take place, the major contenders are the Congress and the BJP. As such we are keen to ensure that the opposition votes remain intact. In case other opposition parties field their own candidates, that will only benefit the BJP,� said the leader.

He added that Congress is confident of retaining the Jania seat.

�The demography of Jania constituency is such that BJP or any of its local allies cannot dream of winning from there. At the same time, we are confident of giving a strong fight in the other three seats as well. So, if there is unity among the opposition parties, the consolidation of the anti-BJP votes could provide a big advantage to us in the electoral battle,� said the leader.

He admitted that split in the anti-BJP votes during the recent Lok Sabha elections proved to be a boon for the ruling NDA.

The Congress party has asked interested candidates in all the four constituencies to start preparation for the by-polls.

�We have not yet started the process of seeking formal applications from prospective candidates. That will be done once the Election Commission of India (ECI) announces the date for the by-polls, which have to be held by November. However, we have told our leaders and workers to start preparations so that the candidates, once officially selected by the party, do not face any difficulties at the eleventh hour. The candidates will find better acceptability among the electorate if they are visible from now,� said the leader.

It is noteworthy that the APCC had earlier formed a committee, comprising senior leaders, to chalk out the party�s strategy and programmes for the by-polls to the four Assembly seats. The committee has already visited all four constituencies and held a detailed discussion with the local level leaders and workers of the party.