Guwahati: To avoid “possible horse-trading by the BJP”, the Congress and its ally AIUDF on Friday sent at least 22 of their candidates in the just held Assembly polls to Congress-ruled Rajasthan in a chartered plane, party sources said.
The leaders of the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) unofficially told the media that so far 22 candidates of the two parties have been sent to Jaipur and they are now lodged in a private hotel there. “More candidates of the Congress and the AIUDF would be dispatched in the coming days as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party might try for horse-trading after the declaration of the results (on May 2) to remain in power,” a Congress leader said in Guwahati on condition of anonymity.
He said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been looking after the arrangements for their stay in protected places. However, no senior leader of the Congress and AIUDF accompanied the candidates.
AIUDF sources said that their candidates would visit Ajmer Sharif during their stay in Rajasthan. “The party candidates while staying in Rajasthan would be provided new mobile phones so that others cannot contact them on their known numbers,” an AIUDF leader said refusing to be quoted. He said: “In view of the previous experience, we are not taking any chances. In the last Manipur elections in 2017, the Congress had bagged 28 of the 60 seats and the BJP had won 21 but the saffron party managed to cobble up the numbers as some Congress MLAs defected and formed the government.”
The BJP had managed the support of some Congress MLAs besides four National People’s Party (NPP) members, four Naga People’s Front MLAs and the lone Trinamool Congress MLA and an Independent member to reach the magic figure of 31 in the 60-member House. The NPP is headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma.
In Assam, to take on the ruling BJP in the three-phase elections, the Congress, which governed Assam for 15 consecutive years (2001-2016), formed a 10-party ‘Mahajot’ (grand alliance) with three Left parties — CPI (M), CPI and CPI (ML) — and six regional and local parties — AIUDF, the Anchalik Gana Morcha, BPF, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Jimochayan (Deori) People’s Party and Adivasi National Party.
The three phases of voting for the 126-member Assam assembly were held on March 27, April 1 and April 6. The results will be declared on May 2.