Congress Turncoat MLA to Sit in Oppn Bench

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Guwahati, Dec 20 (PTI): Opposition Congress MLA Sashi Kanta Das ‘joined’ the government in state on Monday, the first day of the winter session of the Assembly, and will work in association with it though he will not resign from the party immediately, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

The Congress slapped a show cause notice on Das within hours and asked him to clarify his stand and intentions within a day.

The show cause inssued by Assam Congress general secretary Bobbeeta Sharma said that Das was seen under full media glare offering support to the BJP government and his allegiance to Sarma and BJP state unit president Bhabesh Kalita.

Sarma and Kalita welcomed Das at the chief minister’s chamber inside the Assembly complex while the House was in progress.

“Das has decided to join the government to develop Raha constituency from where he was elected. It is not decided yet whether he will join our political party,” Sarma told reporters while welcoming the Opposition MLA.

He will continue to remain a Congress MLA and not resign from it immediately, he said.

Das is a first time MLA from Raha in  Nagaon district who has been in Congress for several decades since his NSUI days. He as elected from the seat in the Assembly poll held earlier this year.

Asked if Das will attend the BJP legislature party meetings, Sarma said “Sometimes, he will sit in our room. But in the House, he will sit with the Congress.”

Replying to a question if there will be by-poll in Raha in view of the development, he said “There are two systems. First by-election will take place in some constituencies and second there will be no by-poll but the opposition MLAs will work with us.”

When asked, Das said he is impressed by the proactive steps initiated by the Sarma-led government for the development of all communities in Assam.

“I have trust in Sarma for many years. I met him for some developmental issues of Raha and he was very positive on them. I am with the government for developmental purposes only, but have not decided anything on leaving Congress,” he added.

Sarma had been in the Congress and was a minister in the Tarun Gogoi government before he joined the BJP in 2015.

Asked repeatedly by scribes whether he will join the BJP, the Congress MLA said “The situation has not arisen yet. I am still a Congress MLA and will sit with them. I will support development.”

To a query whether he will accompany Congress legislators in case of a walkout in the House over an issue, Das said “If the issue is logical, then I will be with them (Congress).”

The Congress show cause to Das said that his statements and actions have created “misgivings” in the minds of party workers and “tarnished its image and discipline”.

Reacting to the development, Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia (Cong) said Das has been in Congress since the bad days for the party and his move “is a shocking development for us”.

“Das was tortured by the ULFA for being in Congress. Such was his commitment to the party. We did not anticipate this when the House was in the first day of its winter session,” Saikia said.

Former minister and senior Congress MLA Rakibul Hussain, with whom Das shares a close association, said that the move was planned inside the Assembly complex and took place on the first day of winter session to deviate the party’s attention from ‘crucial issues’.

BJP’s strength in the 126-member Assam Assembly is currently 62, while its allies UPPL has seven and AGP nine MLAs.

In the Opposition camp the Congress’ strength is 27, AIUDF 15, BPF three and CPI(M) has one MLA. There is an Independent MLA too.

 

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