GUWAHATI, March 21 - In a day of fast-paced developments, the ruling Congress managed to win both the Rajya Sabha seats from the State even as Independent candidate Mahavir Prasad Jain failed to secure even a single first preference vote.
Only 86 of the currently serving 114 MLAs of the Assam Legislative Assembly came to cast their votes for the polls held today to fill up the two upcoming vacancies for the Rajya Sabha from the State.
While Ripun Bora of the Congress secured 38 first preference votes, his party colleague Ranee Narah got 47 first preference votes. One vote, of Congress MLA Robin Bordoloi, was found invalid.
The BPF, which had proposed Jain�s candidature, sprang a last minute surprise with Hagrama Mohilary announcing this morning that the party�s MLAs will not take part in the ballot. He accused Jain of hobnobbing with the Congress.
The AIUDF, which had earlier decided to boycott the polls, also did a U-turn. While five AIUDF MLAs, who had been earlier denied party tickets, came to vote in the morning hours and said they are casting their voting based on �conscience�, the other MLAs of the party, barring Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Kasimi, came to the Legislative Assembly complex in the afternoon to cast their votes.
Speaking to the media, the AIUDF MLAs said they had voted for Narah and said their participation in the voting was intended to ensure that �any candidate supported by the BFP, which has formed an alliance with the BJP for the forthcoming Assembly polls� did not win.
Meanwhile, two AIUDF MLAs, who recently joined the Congress, cast their votes in favour of the Congress candidates. BJP MLA Manoranjan Das, who has been denied party ticket for the Assembly polls, and BPF rebel MLA Hitesh Basumatary also cast their votes along with Independent MLA Zabed Islam. Two Congress MLAs � Amiya Gogoi and Rameswar Dhanowar � did not turn up to vote.
However, other MLAs of the BJP and AGP did not take part in the exercise, although there was no official words from either party on the issue. Trinamool Congress MLA Dwipen Pathak and Independent Jatin Mali also refrained from voting.
Speaking to reporters, APCC chief Anjan Dutta said that the Rajya Sabha results are a prequel to the Legislative Assembly polls. �I had said earlier also that we will win both the seats and get support from MLAs of other parties. There was no horse trading, only discussion. We will win big in the Assembly polls as well,� he said.
Regarding the decision of the AIUDF MLAs to vote for Narah, Dutta said the Congress had never sought any help from the AIUDF. �We are ready to welcome the five AIUDF MLAs who have been denied party tickets. But we will not be giving them tickets from our party. But they will get our party�s respect,� he said.
But with regard to the other legislators, Dutta said it was all a part of conspiracy of the BJP. �This decision proves our allegation about a secret understanding between the BJP and AIUDF. One particular individual, who was with us till recently and has now joined the BJP, is behind this,� he added.
The AIUDF has lost its base among the minorities and so, it has entered into a secret tie-up with the BJP and they �want to defame us by making their MLAs vote for our candidate,� Dutta said, ruling out the possibility of any post-poll tie-up with the AIUDF after the Assembly polls. He exuded confidence that the Congress on its own would secure a majority in the polls.
Dutta said that the BJP will not be able to win more than 20 seats in the Assembly elections and added that Sarbananda Sonowal himself will lose from Majuli. The APCC chief further added that the AIUDF will be decimated in the polls.
Ripun Bora, meanwhile, expressed happiness on getting elected to the Rajya Sabha. �This is only the beginning. This will be followed by the decimation of the Opposition in the Assembly polls,� he said.
Ranee Narah, on her part, said that she will raise issues concerning the State in Parliament.
On the other hand, Jain refused to blame anyone for his poor show. �It is unfortunate that so many MLAs did not turn up to exercise their franchise. I cannot invite them to vote. They have a responsibility,� he said.
Regarding the BPF�s decision to not take part in the elections, he said, �It is Hagrama�s decision. I cannot comment on that.�
The Rajya Sabha polls were necessitated as the terms of two serving Upper House MPs from the State � Pankaj Bora and Naznin Faruque, who are both from the Congress, will end on April 2.