New Delhi: After drawing a zero in the May 23 general elections, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is getting a Rajya Sabha nomination backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It is as per a promise made by the BJP, AGP’s alliance partner, if it failed to win in any of the three Lok Sabha constituencies given to it to contest in Assam.
Party sources in the AGP had confirmed about that promise to The Wire a day before the Lok Sabha elections were announced. On May 26, speaking to newspersons in New Delhi after a meeting with the BJP national president Amit Shah on two Rajya Sabha seats that would be vacant this June from Assam, state leader and party strategist for the Northeast, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “It is most likely that we will leave one seat for AGP and in the other seat BJP will contest.”
The terms of two Rajya Sabha Congress MPs from Assam – former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur – will come to an end in June.
Local news reports said AGP had formed a committee to select a candidate for the Rajya Sabha nomination which named former Union minister and senior party leader Biren Baishya. Interestingly, Baishya was present in the close-door meeting Ram Madhav, BJP national president in charge of the Northeast, held at a posh hotel in Guwahati this past March 12 before announcing its pre-poll alliance with the AGP.
Though news has been abuzz since the run-up to the elections that Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Bilas Paswan too has been promised a Rajya Sabha seat in order to enter into a pre-poll alliance with the BJP and that would be from Assam, Sarma, along with state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was also present in the meeting with Shah, denied it. LJP won all the six seats it contested as part of an alliance with the BJP and Janata Dal (United) in Bihar.
With LJP out of the way, speculations are rife about who would be picked from the state BJP for Rajya Sabha. As per a top source in the state BJP, the most likely candidate would be Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, the 2014 winner from the Jorhat seat. He had told reporters that he conveyed to his party before the ticket distribution for the 2019 polls that he didn’t want to contest it. The ticket went to Tapan Gogoi who retained the seat for the party.
The state BJP is scheduled to make a formal announcement about Tasa’s nomination on May 27 evening.
The last date of nomination for the Rajya Sabha seats is May 28.