Assam's ruling BJP-led alliance is likely to field candidates for all three Rajya Sabha seats
With the opposition in Assam deciding on an independent candidate, Ajit Bhuyan, veteran journalist and prominent anti-CAA intellectuals of the state, the ruling BJP-led alliance is likely to field candidates for all three Rajya Sabha seats in the state that will go to polls on March 26.
Opposition parties – All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Congress – have decided to support the candidature of Mr Bhuyan on Wednesday.
The opposition wants to rope in anti-CAA sentiments and also test the opposition unity in Assam ahead of next year's crucial assembly polls in the state.
While the BJP and its allies have declared the names of NDA candidate for two out of three Rajya Sabha seats in Assam, initially the BJP had indicated that for the third seat it might not field a candidate as winning it would be difficult as far as the number game is concerned, but now the party thinks otherwise.
Out of three seats falling vacant, the BJP has declared that it will contest one seat and in another Bodoland People's Front (BPF), an ally of the BJP, has fielded Biswajit Daimary as the candidate. Mr Daimary filed his nomination on Wednesday.
The BJP has declared the name of Bhubaneshwar Kalita, former Assam Congress top leader, as the party candidate for the other seat.
"Atmosphere exists for us to contest the third seat, we are looking into it. Let Congress announce its candidate. However, we do not want much drama and democratic atmosphere must prevail," said Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, indicating that they might field a candidate for the third seat.
The buzz is that former Rajya Sabha member from Assam and the Amethi Royal Sanjay Singh, who had left the Congress to join the BJP, might be the BJP candidate for the third seat.
BJP leaders are of the opinion that giving a 'no contests' to a candidate who is riding on the anti-CAA campaign might hit the image of the party in Assam and the party parliamentary board has been informed about this.
"If Ajit Bhuyan a veteran journalist is supported by AIUDF, this proves that intellectuals led anti-CAA protest only to get Rajya Sabha seat. A section of intellectuals was carrying out anti CAA-protest at the behest of AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal and the protest was done for securing Upper House berth. Bhuyan has decided to surrender before Ajmal," Himanta Biswa Sarma added.
Meanwhile, former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi hit back at the BJP.
Mr Gogoi argued, "Our love for AIUDF is open, unlike BJP we do not do it secretly. In several Panchayat AIUDF and BJP have jointly formed the Panchayat? In the past, in the Rajya election, BJP and AIUDF jointly put a candidate."
The BJP has 60 seats in the 126-member Assembly. Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a BJP ally, has 14 MLAs and the BPF has 12 MLAs. An independent MLA supports the BJP-led government. Congress has 23 MLAs, while the AIUDF has 14. Two seats are vacant.
In Manipur, the BJP has dropped its former state president and Rajya Sabha member Kh.Bhabananda Singh and has decided to give the party ticket the royal scion Leishemba Sanajaoba, the great-grandson of Bodhchandra, the last king of Manipur. He has never been associated with any party but due to his association with the royal family, he has special influence in the Meitei society.