PM’s Rajya Sabha re-election: Dissidence worries Congress-Times of India 25th May 2013
GUWAHATI: The sword of Congress dissidence in Assam is hanging over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's chances of re-election to the RajyaSabha for the fifth consecutive time. A worried Congress has now decided to issue a whip to all its MLAs to be present in the state capital a day before the election for the two seats on May 30 and vote without fail for Singh and the party's other candidate- tribal leader SantiuseKujur.
"It will be a one-line whip asking all MLAs of Congress to be present at Dispur positively on May 29 and participate in the Rajya Sabha election the next day. They will be asked to vote for the two Congress candidates without fail," a key party leader said. To ensure that all MLAs vote for Singh and Kujur, the legislators would have to show their ballot papers with their choice of candidates to the party's election agent at the polling booth.
"Our strategy has been lined up to give AIUDF a humiliating defeat," said parliamentary affairs minister Nilamani Sen Deka, who is also Singh's election agent.
Congress has 79 members in the 126-member assembly and the party would require 43 votes each for Singh and Kujur to win. The party has also decided to approach all Independent MLAs to vote in favour of Singh.
Trouble erupted for Congress when the All India United Democratic Party (AIUDF), which is a partner of the UPA at the Centre, fielded a candidate for the RS polls. This meant that the two Congress candidates, including Singh, have to fight the battle of ballots to win.
A worried Congress central leadership made use of the Prime Minister's dinner party for UPA members in New Delhi on Wednesday to persuade Badruddin Ajmal to withdraw from the race and ensure win for the Congress candidates without a contest and save the PM from contesting an election.
Ajmal refused and a worried Congress rushed in AICC secretary Pervez Hashmi to Guwahati to oversee a safe return for Singh to the upper house. "My job is to ensure that both candidates of Congress win the election and I will get all the required votes. There are some differences and I will resolve them," Hashmi said on his arrival in the city on Friday.
While one dissident group of MLAs has been active since March, demanding chief minister Tarun Gogoi's replacement, another group of MLAs are now up in arms against the party's decision to nominate party newcomer Kujur for the second Rajya Sabha seat. This group of dissidents has declared it will not vote for Kujur, putting the party on a sticky wicket.