GUWAHATI, April 29 - The Opposition Congress party is unlikely to re-nominate former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as a candidate in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha polls from Assam, while the BJP is expected to leave one of the two seats, for which vacancies will arise, to its ally AGP.
With polling for the Lok Sabha elections over in Assam, the focus of political parties have now shifted towards filling up the upcoming vacancies for two of the Rajya Sabha seats from the State.
The terms of Dr Singh and Santiuse Kujur, both Rajya Sabha members of the Congress party from Assam, will end on June 14.
The Election Commission is likely to announce the notification for the polls very shortly. A candidate will need at least 43 first preference votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat.
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.
�As things stand, we are not in a position to win a Rajya Sabha seat on our own strength. So it is unlikely that our party will field Dr Singh. The arithmetic in the Legislative Assembly is against us,� a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) office-bearer told this newspaper.
He, however, added that no formal discussions within the party have so far taken place regarding the upcoming vacancies to the Rajya Sabha.
�There is even the possibility of us refraining from fielding any nominee at all if the constituents of the ruling alliance put up joint candidates for both the seats. The ruling alliance has 88 MLAs and that is enough to ensure victory for both their nominees, if they contest the polls unitedly,� said a Congress leader.
It is noteworthy that Dr Singh has been representing Assam in the Rajya Sabha since 1991.
Meanwhile, sources in the State BJP said that the saffron party is likely to field its own candidate for one of the vacancies, while leaving the other seat for the AGP.
There have been no formal discussions regarding the Rajya Sabha matter as most of our leaders here were busy with the Lok Sabha polls till two-three days ago. But the top leadership no doubt have some plans. One seat is more or less certain to go to the AGP. That was agreed upon during the discussion between our two parties when AGP was negotiating with us regarding renewal of the alliance,� said a BJP leader.
He added, �Besides, we cannot win both seats on our own strength. We need the AGP to make a clean sweep. There is also the larger national picture that we have to consider. Our Central leaders have time and again emphasised the importance of maintaining good relations with the allies at the State level.�
Asked about reports that Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ram Vilas Paswan may be fielded by the NDA as candidate for one of the Rajya Sabha slots from Assam, the BJP leader said, �We have heard no such thing from our Central leadership.�
Interestingly, Bhubaneswar Kalita, another serving Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress and representing Assam, was fielded from Mangaldai constituency by his party in the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
In case Kalita wins the Lok Sabha polls, he will have to resign from the Upper House (where his term is scheduled to expire on April 9 next year). Such a scenario will create another Rajya Sabha vacancy from Assam.
However, even if Kalita wins the Lok Sabha poll and resigns from the Rajya Sabha, the notification to fill up that berth for the remainder of the term is expected later, and not along with the election for the other two seats.