Guwahati: Three candidates, two from the BJP-led ruling alliance and one from the Congress as the joint opposition nominee, on Monday filed their nomination papers for elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, scheduled to be held on March 31.

The BJP’s Pabitra Margherita, its alliance partner UPPL’s Rwngra Narzary and Congress candidate and sitting Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora filed their nomination papers in the assembly secretary’s office here.

Monday is the last day of filing nomination papers.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma accompanied Margherita when the candidate filed nomination papers.

Margherita’s victory is assured while a contest is on the cards for the other seat with the chief minister urging all Congress MLAs to vote for the candidate of the ruling alliance for that seat.

“We do not want the votes of the AIUDF but I urge all Congress MLAs to vote for the ruling alliance candidates as they can raise the voice of the people and the state in the Rajya Sabha,” Sarma said.

The CM’s visit to the residence of suspended Congress MLA Sashi Kanta Das on Sunday had created a stir as he announced that he would vote for the candidates of the ruling alliance.

Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia told reporters outside the assembly that the chief minister has resorted to ‘horse-trading’ and is out to destroy the democratic process in the state.

“The opposition parties, AIUDF and the Raijor Dal had agreed to support the Congress candidate and accordingly Bora’s candidature was announced. Realising that it would be difficult for the second candidate of the ruling alliance to win, the chief minister has reached out to our party MLAs,” Saikia said.

Admitting that the BJP has reached out to Congress MLAs, the CM asserted that it does not amount to horse-trading.

“I will also talk to them while party members will go to their homes with gamosa and tamul-paan and request them to vote for the ruling alliance candidates,” he said.

In Assam, ‘gamosa’ (traditional hand towel) and ‘tamul-paan’ (areca nut and betel leaves) are presented to people as a sign of respect.

The present condition of the Congress in the entire country is pitiable and “I request the elected members of the opposition to consider which party can ensure the well-being of the people and the state,” Sarma said.

“If an MLA does not weigh the pros and cons before voting, it is only then that he should be called a horse and not the other way round,” Sarma quipped.

On Bora’s statement that all Congress MLAs will receive Rs 10 lakh each year for their assembly constituencies from his MP Development Fund, Sarma said the legislators should question him why he did not give it in the last six years when he was a Rajya Sabha member.

Both the seats for which elections have been scheduled are currently held by Congress members- Bora and Ranee Narah.

There are seven Rajya Sabha seats from Assam. Three of them are held by the BJP and one by its alliance partner AGP. The Congress and an independent member hold the three other seats.

In the 126-member state assembly, the ruling NDA has 79 seats with 63 from BJP, nine from AGP and seven from the UPPL. Among the opposition parties, there are 27 MLAs from the Congress, 15 from AIUDF, three from BPF and one from the CPI(M) while there is an independent member.

The BPF has lent its support to the government in the assembly but is yet to enter into a political alliance formally.

MLAs will participate in the Rajya Sabha election as members of the Upper House of Parliament are elected by legislators in state assemblies. It is an election through proportional representation.

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