Four-time Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Assam Prashant Phukan on Monday claimed that eight Congress MLAs will join the ruling BJP within a month. He said that a program would be organized soon to facilitate this.
Prashant Phukan, who represents Dibrugarh constituency in Upper Assam, said eight Congress MLAs were in discussions with the BJP.
Speaking exclusively to News18, he said, “I have heard that to boost the morale of the Congress party, BJP is planning an itinerary called ‘Gaurav Yatra’ in the constituencies of MLAs. What is the point of such an exercise? When eight of their MLAs are going to join BJP soon? As discussed with us, Congress had nine MLAs; but on the condition of accommodation we decided to welcome eight of the nine MLAs. Presently Congress Active talks are on with the MLAs about their resignation from the party as well as the assembly and joining the BJP. The switchover will happen within a month.
Taking a jibe at Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Kumar Bora, Phukan said, “If Bhupen Kumar Bora is busy in ‘Gaurav Yatra’ against BJP, the numbers will increase.” His name will be written in the history of Congress party where maximum number of MLAs will resign from the party and 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, with BJP 63, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) 9, United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) 7 and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF). There are 3 MLAs out of 126. Member Assembly. In opposition, All India The United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has 15 MLAs, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has one and an Independent.
After Phukan’s sensational remarks, state Congress chief Bora said, “These are baseless claims of Prashant Phukan. He and his party want to divert the Congress party’s program which will start across the state from tomorrow till August 15. That’s why they raised the issue of eight MLAs.”
Speaking to reporters, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devvrat Saikia said, “I am hesitant to talk about this non-issue and fake claim. BJP leaders and ministers including Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are experts in spreading such things. I do not want to say that he (Phukan) is a mentally unbalanced person, but I can say that he is suffering from a mental illness. He did not get a ministerial post in 2016. So he made these baseless claims for someone’s satisfaction.
Last year, two Congress MLAs Rupjyoti Kurmi (Mariani) and Sushant Borgohain (Thawra), as well as Phanidhar Talukdar (Bhabanipur) from AIUDF, resigned from the assembly and joined the BJP. All three later won by-elections as BJP candidates.
In addition, 22 opposition MLAs voted in favor of the NDA candidate in the presidential election on 18 July. Chief Minister Himanta said, “15 to 16 are from Congress, three to four are from AIUDF, and the rest can be from independents or other parties.” Biswa Sarma said later.
The Congress and AIUDF are yet to identify the cross-voting MLAs.