Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) four-time Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Prasanta Phukan of Assam claimed on Monday that eight Congress MLAs will join the ruling BJP within a month. An event to facilitate this will be held soon, he said.
Prasanta Phukan, who represents the Dibrugarh constituency in Upper Assam, said the eight Congress legislators were in discussions with the BJP.
Speaking exclusively to News18, he said, “I heard the Congress is planning a yatra programme, namely ‘Gaurav Yatra’ in constituencies of BJP MLAs in a bid to boost the party’s morale. What is the point of such an exercise when eight of their legislators are going to join the BJP shortly? As discussed with us, there were nine MLAs from Congress; but on the condition of accommodation, we decided to welcome eight MLAs out of nine. Active talks are underway at present with the Congress MLAs about them resigning from the party as well as the assembly and joining BJP. The switchover will happen within a month.”
Targeting Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Kumar Borah, Phukan said, “The number will increase if Bhupen Kumar Borah is busy with the ‘Gaurav Yatra’ against BJP. His name will be written in the history of Congress party, where maximum MLAs resign from the party and would join BJP.”
At present, the Congress has 24 MLAs, down from 27 after three were suspended following the recent Rajya Sabha elections. The ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 82 MLAs, where BJP has 63, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) 9, United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) 7, and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has 3 in the 126-member assembly. In the opposition, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has 15 MLAs, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has one, and there is one independent MLA.
After Phukan’s sensational remarks, state Congress chief Borah said, “These are baseless claims of Prasanta Phukan. He and his party want to divert the Congress party programme, which is going to start from tomorrow till August 15 all over the state. That’s why he raised the eight MLAs’ issue.”
Last year, two Congress legislators, Rupjyoti Kurmi (Mariani) and Sushanta Borgohain (Thawra), as well as Phanidhar Talukdar (Bhabanipur) from AIUDF, resigned from the assembly and joined the BJP. All three of them later won bypolls as BJP candidates.
Also, 22 opposition MLAs had voted in favour of the NDA candidate in the Presidential polls on July 18. “15 to 16 are from Congress, three to four from the AIUDF, and remaining may be from independent or other parties,” chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said afterwards.
The Congress and AIUDF are yet to identify the cross-voting MLAs.
With inputs from News18