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Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia

Guwahati: Leader of Opposition in Assam Assembly Debabrata Saikia on Thursday slapped a legal notice on AIUDF MLA Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for allegedly stating that 7-8 Congress legislators had voted for ruling BJP candidates in the recently held Rajya Sabha polls in the state.

The senior Congress leader demanded an unconditional public apology and withdrawal of Barbhuiya’s statement within seven days from the receipt of the notice.

Saikia’s counsel Sarfraz Nawaz, in the notice, asserted that the Congress leader will initiate “appropriate criminal and civil actions” against Barbhuiya if he does not comply.

Repeated calls to Barbhuiya for his comments on the legal notice went unanswered.

Election for two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam was held on March 31 with the ruling alliance’s candidates, BJP’s Pabitra Margherita and UPPL’s Rwngwra Narzary, emerging winners. The opposition had put up its joint nominee — outgoing Congress MP Ripun Bora.

Margherita, whose victory was assured, polled 46 votes, while Narzary secured 44 votes and Bora 35. All the 126 MLAs of the Assam Assembly cast their votes and one vote was found to be invalid.

“Following the declaration of results in the elections to the two seats of the Rajya Sabha you addressed a press meet wherein you alleged that 7-8 MLAs of the Congress party voted for BJP.”

“You further alleged that a game was played by the Congress party in cohorts with Sri Akhil Gogoi (Independent MLA) under the leadership of Sri (Prithviraj Prabhakar) Sathe and Sri Bhupen Bora,” the notice stated.

Barbhuiya had also allegedly said that if the houses of the MLAs close to Sathe, who is the AICC secretary and in-charge of Assam, are searched “packets and packets of cash” will be recovered, it added.

“My client states that the aforesaid statements issued by you in the press meet are entirely false, fallacious, frivolous, scandalous, derogatory and defamatory. The statements made in the press meet were made intentionally and maliciously to mislead the public and denigrate the image of the Indian National Congress,” Nawaz said.

The notice explained that votes cast in elections, especially for Rajya Sabha, are decided by a myriad of factors and one vote from a Congress MLA was cancelled too.

“But there is absolutely no truth in your allegations that 7-8 MLAs of the Congress party voted for the NDA candidate. My client states that being an MLA yourself, you are expected to speak with responsibility. Any allegation made as part of the political rhetoric or otherwise must be supported by tangible evidence,” the notice said.

Saikia, through the legal notice, stated that the Congress has had to face public embarrassment due to Barbhuiya’s “false, scandalous and derogatory statement”.

“In addition to such acts giving rise to civil liability for damages, your actions attract penal provisions under the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Rules made thereunder,” the notice asserted.

The Congress had earlier alleged that the AIUDF indulged in cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha election and cast their votes in favour of the ruling BJP-led alliance’s candidates.

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