Rajya Sabha polls: AGP suspects horse trading by Congress

Guwahati, Feb 3: Twice chief minister and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta Monday appealed to the Election Commission for direct supervision of the Rajya Sabha election in Assam, alleging “horse trading” by the ruling Congress.

Mahanta wrote a letter to the Election Commission Monday following reports that the ruling coalition might try to indulge in “horse trading” for its candidates in the three seats for which voting will be held Feb 7.

Four candidates – three from the Congress and its ally, Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), and one combined nominee of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, AGP and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) – are in the fray.

Mahanta said in his letter that the Congress and the BPF can win only two seats while the third will run short of four representational votes.

The assembly has 126 members, of which 79 are from Congress, 12 from BPF, 18 from AIUDF, 5 from BJP, 9 from AGP, 1 from Trinamool Congress and 2 are Independents.

“Of these, the AIUDF, AGP and BJP have 32 members who are capable of electing one candidate,” he said.

This being the position, the Congress and its ally can win all three seats only by “horse trading” or “other electoral crimes like kidnapping or bribing etc”, Mahanta said.

He also said in the letter that during the last Rajya Sabha election in Assam in 2010, there was “open horse trading” and cross-voting by the Congress.

“Some members of AIUDF and BJP were escorted by two Congress ministers to the polling centre in an open vehicle and forced them to cast votes in favour of candidates sponsored by Congress,” Mahanta said.

He said the AGP was filing the complaint apprehending similar “unethical” and “criminal offences” in the forthcoming election.

Mahanta said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and two ministers have already declared to the media that the Congress would secure votes as it had done before and that the party would win all three seats.