GUWAHATI, March 4 - While speculations continue to float regarding possibility of the opposition groups fielding a joint candidate for one of the three Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, polls for which are scheduled to be held later this month, many in the Congress party believe that the task will not be easy.
Sources in the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) told this newspaper that they have doubts about the AIUDF�s capability to keep its entire contingent of legislators together.
�There have been many occasions during recent years when at least a few of the AIUDF MLAs have gone against their party�s whip during voting for Rajya Sabha elections. We have received reports that at least four or five AIUDF legislators may do the same this time as well,� said a senior State Congress leader.
The notification for elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Assam will be issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) of March 6. The last date for filing of nomination papers by candidates is March 13. Voting will take place on March 26 and results of the elections will be announced that same evening.
There are currently two vacancies in the 126-member Assam Legislative Assembly.
So a candidate will require at least 32 first preference votes to get elected. The Opposition�s strength in the Legislative Assembly stands at 37, which includes 23 MLAs of the Congress and 14 of the AIUDF. So, if the Opposition fields a joint candidate they can hope to win one of the seats.
The ruling NDA has 86 MLAs and it also enjoys the support of the lone Independent legislator. As such, the ruling alliance has adequate numbers to win two seats.
The BJP has already announced that it will field its own candidate for at least one of the seats and leave another for the BPF. Sitting Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary has been re-nominated by the BPF.
Former MP Bhubaneswar Kalita is likely to be BJP�s candidate for one of the seats, while the party has not yet taken any decision regarding the third seat.
�The numbers may seem to favour the Opposition for winning at least one of the seats, but things are not so straightforward. Both our party and the AIUDF have to agree on a common candidate and that is not an easy task. If we field a Congress candidate, then AIUDF will not support that candidate and vice versa. Then there is the factor of AIUDF�s ability to keep its flock intact and previous experiences have not been good,� said a Congress leader.
He added that formal talks are expected to take place between AIUDF president Badaruddin Ajmal and the Congress�s high command in Delhi.
�A lot of reports are circulating here regarding the Rajya Sabha polls. But those are mostly speculative. The fact is that it is our central leadership which will decide our strategy and whether to tie up with the AIUDF or not. These things do not take place at the State level,� said the leader.